Dual Diagnosis – When Someone Has Multiple Co-Occurring Disorders

By The Care Centers. Posted on Fri Feb 26 2016

When someone is diagnosed with alcoholism or drug addiction, it’s not uncommon for them to actually have a dual diagnosis. For example, someone who is addicted to pain medication may also be diagnosed with anxiety, and someone who has a dependency on alcohol may also be diagnosed with clinical depression or bipolar disorder.

The Importance of a Good Diagnosis
Very few people start drinking to excess or using illicit drugs when they feel good about their lives and are in otherwise stable, balanced situations. Treating their addiction as if it exists in a bubble and is not associated with any other part of their life would be a massive mistake. Thus, it’s very important to take a more holistic approach to the patient and their problems with alcohol, drugs, and addiction. With a proper dual diagnosis of co-occurring disorders, you will have a better chance at getting the best treatment and making a full recovery.

The Link Between Mental Health and Substance Abuse
People who suffer from mental health disorders like bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety know how painful it can be to feel completely out of control and to feel like your emotions are running amok. When you feel this way and you do not have the proper treatment, self-medication can be incredibly tempting. After all, who wouldn’t like to numb some of those painful emotions?

At the same time, using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain can lead to a downward spiral. You feel out of control, so you take a pill, smoke some weed, or take a shot. However, using drugs makes your brain chemistry even more volatile, making you feel even more out of control. And the cycle continues until you’re suffering from a serious addiction, as well as a mental disorder.

The Most Common Co-Occurring Disorders
There’s honestly no limit to the types of co-occurring disorders that can occur between addiction and other mental health problems. However, some stand out as more common than other. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), people who display signs of depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), eating disorders, and conduct disorders are more likely than others to develop and seek help for addictions.

Most Commonly Abused Drugs for Mental Health Patients
Patients with co-occurring disorders tend to seek out mind-altering substances to help them escape the way they feel when they are out of control. The most common of these include but are not limited to alcohol, marijuana, tranquilizers, prescription medications, heroin and other opiates, and methamphetamines.

Identifying Co-Occurring Disorders
So how can you tell if you have co-occurring disorders? Do you tend to drink or use drugs to dull painful memories or to numb yourself from feeling depressed, anxious, or fearful? Do you have difficulty controlling the intensity of your moods without the help of drugs or alcohol? Do you rely on alcohol or drugs to face uncomfortable situations or situations that make you feel sad, afraid, or anxious? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you likely have co-occurring disorders. Contact one of The Care Centers’ rehab or mental health facilities near you for help today.


Tags: Mental Health