An individual is said to have a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis if they struggle with substance misuse as well as a mental health condition like depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety. It’s never simple to deal with substance misuse, alcoholism, or drug addiction, and it can be significantly more challenging if you also have mental health issues. When you have co-occurring disorders, your capacity to perform at work or school, maintain a stable home life, cope with challenges in life, and form relationships may be hampered by both the mental health issue and the drug or alcohol addiction, each of which has its own distinct symptoms. Substance misuse typically worsens when a mental health issue is left untreated. And generally, mental health issues rise in accordance with greater alcohol and drug usage.
What causes dual diagnosis?
Both substance use problems and mental health issues might be influenced by certain risk factors. Some of these risk factors include:
- Genetics: It is possible for both substance use and mental health illnesses to run in families. According to research, numerous genes may increase your risk of getting either ailment.
- Environmental variables: Environmental factors like stress and trauma can be passed off through the generations. All of these things may lead to the emergence of a mental illness or substance use ailments.
What mental health and substance abuse issues commonly occur together?
There are numerous possible combinations between mental health and substance use problems. However, substance addiction and mood or anxiety problems are among the most common combinations. According to studies, at least 50% of those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol also experience emotional, psychological, or mental disorders.
There are several mood disorders that frequently co-occur with substance use disorders:
- Bipolar condition.
- A severe form of depression.
- Dysthymia disorder is characterized by a persistently depressed mood lasting at least two years and at least two other depressive symptoms.
- With alcohol or drugs, anxiety disorders are frequently detected.
- GAD stands for generalized anxiety disorder.
- OCD, or obsessional-compulsive disorder.
- social anxiety disorders.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In addition to substance misuse, other mental health diseases that may co-occur with it include schizophrenia, personality disorders, ADD, and ADHD.
What are the co-occurring dual diagnosis symptoms?
Both your substance abuse problem and your mental health problem have distinct signs. As a result, the symptoms of a dual diagnosis will vary depending on the substances and mental health conditions involved. Due to the numerous possible multiple diagnoses, symptoms can differ greatly.
Substance use disorder symptoms could include:
- Dangerous behavior (including unsafe sex, swimming, or driving).
- Sudden changes in behavior or personality.
- Socially excluding oneself from loved ones, friends, and hobbies.
- Incapable of controlling alcohol or drug use.
- A desire for substance.
- Financial or legal difficulties.
- The development of tolerance, results in the requirement for more to provide the desired effect.
- Signs of withdrawal if the substance is not utilized.
The following are some situations of symptoms of various mental health disorders:
- inability to pay attention
- eating or sleeping issues
- inability to carry out regular activities
- changes in sex drive
- Unknown bodily discomfort
- Expressions of fear, anxiety, or fury that are exaggerated
- Mood swings, alternating between highs and lows
- Social exclusion (withdrawal from friends, family, and hobbies)
Hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts are examples of severe symptoms. Individuals who experience any of these signs require quick assistance from a trained mental health expert.
What is the relationship between substance use disorders and mental disorders?
The connections between substance abuse and mental disease are complicated. Alcohol and other substances may be used by people with mental health problems for similar purposes to those of non-users, such as relaxation or pleasure. Sometimes a person develops a mental condition first and then uses drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or cope. Other times, a shared factor like trauma, stress, or heredity causes both substance use and mental health problems to develop together. Additionally, substance abuse can alter the chemical composition of the brain, which can lead to mental health problems or exacerbate pre-existing mental illnesses.
Does One Cause The Other?
Although it is not always the case, it is possible that mental health issues could lead to substance use disorders and vice versa. Due to their tendency to self-medicate their symptoms, people with mental illnesses are more prone to addiction – substance abuse is twice as common among adults with mental illness. Some persons who struggle with mental illness might not even be aware that their substance usage is abnormal.
The signs of a mental disorder can, however, be made worse by alcohol and drugs. Additionally, consistent drug use raises the chance of mental disease. In the United States, around 38% of all alcohol, 44% of all cocaine, and more than half of all opioid prescriptions are used by people who have mental illnesses. In addition, there is a higher chance that someone may use drugs the more severe their mental disease is. even while it may be challenging to determine which “came first” or even if one disease affects the other, there is sometimes a clear correlation between the two.
What is the most difficult mental illness to treat?
Some of the most challenging psychiatric problems to treat are personality disorders. This is primarily due to the fact that individuals with personality disorders rarely seek therapy because they don’t view their behavior as wrong.
There are currently no pharmaceuticals that are approved to treat any personality problem, thus even if a person with a personality disorder seeks treatment, there are still few alternatives for doing so in modern medicine. Although anxiety and depression symptoms are frequent in people with personality disorders, there are drugs that can help with these conditions. Like Adderall, Xanax(alprazolam), Klonopin, Valium, or Ativan(Lorazepam).
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What is the best treatment for dual diagnosis?
For patients with a dual diagnosis, healthcare professionals may suggest the following treatment modalities:
- Detoxification: The first phase, which can be extremely difficult, entails giving up the drugs and getting them out of your system. Inpatient settings are frequently used for the detoxification process so that medical staff can keep an eye on the patient and administer medicine and care if necessary should they experience withdrawal symptoms.
- Psychotherapy: A key component of treatment plans frequently includes therapy. The use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective in altering negative thought patterns that lead to substance abuse. Some patients might require rigorous therapy at first, but as they develop effective coping mechanisms and regulate their symptoms, they might be able to cut back on the number of treatment sessions.
- Medication: Medication can help with the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders as well as withdrawal symptoms. It may also assist with reducing cravings for alcohol and drugs.
- Inpatient treatment: Individuals with co-occurring illnesses may gain from inpatient treatment, where they can get ongoing supervision and mental healthcare.
- Support groups: Support groups give members a forum to exchange tips, acknowledge achievements, express problems, locate resources, and provide encouragement and support.