A dual diagnosis, also known as a co-occurring disorder, happens when a patient suffers from both a substance abuse problem and a mental health issue like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. In this type of diagnosis, both the substance addiction and the mental health issue have unique symptoms that may affect a person’s ability to interact with others, face life’s challenges, and even function on a day-to-day basis.
But, no matter how challenging it may seem, there are effective treatments available to overcome a dual diagnosis.
Which One Comes First?
Addiction problems are usually common among those with mental health issues. Though these two are closely related, one does not directly cause the other. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 50 percent of people suffering from mental disorders also have substance abuse problems. Below are some additional facts:
- Both alcohol and drugs are often used as a way to self-medicate the symptoms of mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. Substance abuse, however, has side effects which can worsen over time, defeating its purpose of relieving the symptoms of the mental issues.
- Addiction to both alcohol and drugs may actually cause the underlying risk for mental disorders to increase. A complex interplay of genetics, the environment, and other external factors can cause mental disorders. If a person shows symptoms of a mental disorder, drug or alcohol abuse may only cause even bigger problems.
- Instead of relieving the pain, alcohol and drug abuse only worsens the symptoms of a mental health issue. Substance abuse may significantly increase the symptoms of mental illness; in worse cases, it may even trigger new symptoms. If patients take medications such as anti-anxiety pills, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers, substance problems only make these even less effective.
No matter how hopeless the situation may seem, there is always help available. The treatments are often designed to fit your specific needs. For example, women’s alcohol rehab centers in Utah help women deal with their problems.
The process doesn’t happen overnight. The road towards recovery may take months or years, and relapse is common. As you work to reclaim your life, find support for both you and your loved ones.