Dual diagnosis happens when someone has an addiction and a coexisting mental health condition, like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It’s important to address both the addiction and the mental health condition – but often, only the addiction is treated. Accurately diagnosing dual diagnosis can be the key to lasting recovery – that’s why it should be treated from the start. In this article we’ll talk about dual diagnosis, what it is, how it’s treated, and how proper diagnosis can help a person recover.
Dual diagnosis is common for those with a diagnosed Substance Use Disorder (SUD). It happens when someone has SUD and another cooccurring mental health or behavioral condition. If someone with a dual diagnosis is approached properly, they can successfully navigate their recovery and life in general. When the mental health or behavioral diagnosis is left without proper diagnosis and action, often addiction reoccurs. An integrated treatment plan will address both disorders and help the dual diagnosis patient recognize their coexisting disorder and how they can go on in life. Almost half of all people with SUD also have a dual diagnosis.
Some disorders are seen often in people with addiction issues. Many times, the underlying cause of addiction is an undiagnosed mental health condition. It’s estimated that nearly half of all people with SUD also have a cooccuring mental health diagnosis.
When discussing dual diagnosis, one of the biggest issues is self-medicating. Self-medication is when a person takes drugs or alcohol to manage the symptoms of their mental illness. At first, self-medicating may help. The person may feel their symptoms less. They may even think they’ve been cured. Addiction always spirals out of control in the end. Substance abuse will turn into tolerance, dependence, and finally addiction. Using substances as a coping mechanism can even make the mental illness worse. This happens when symptoms get exacerbated by the substances. Here are a few examples of how self-medicating works.
Dual diagnosis occurs when someone has a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and another mental health condition at the same time. Some common coexisting conditions include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. A tailored treatment plan can help those with dual diagnosis. The only way to effectively manage dual diagnosis is to recognize the coexisting conditions.