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Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis disorders are extremely common amongst those that struggle with substance abuse and dependency. In many cases, undiagnosed or untreated mental disorders will lead to self-medication. What does this mean? Essentially, it means that without proper support and psychiatrist-prescribed medication, symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. can be too much to bear. Rather than seek professional help, the afflicted will often turn to drugs and alcohol to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. Many drug addicts and alcoholics don’t even realize that they’re struggling from a mental health condition until they have been sober for a length of time.

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The Prevalence of Dual Diagnosis Disorders

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 45 percent of American citizens struggle with a dual diagnosis disorder – nearly have of the entire US population. Those who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder are nearly twice as likely to simultaneously struggle with a substance abuse or dependency disorder. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that 17.5 million US residents over the age of 18 have struggled with a mental health disorder within the past year. Of these residents, 4 million also struggled with a severe substance use disorder. The same report (published by SAMHSA), found that a significant percentage of dual-diagnosis patients were functional in the workplace. They were able to hold down jobs for extended periods of time – in fact,10.6 percent of full-time employees were afflicted with a serious addiction,10.2 percent were dealing with a severe mental health disorder, and 2.4 percent were dealing with a previously diagnosed co- occurring disorder.
This is to say that those who require dual diagnosis treatment may still be highly functional – and that dual diagnosis disorders are extremely prevalent. If you’re unsure whether or not dual diagnosis treatment is the most appropriate option for you personally, there are several ways to find out. You can visit an addiction specialists and a psychiatrist, who will conduct an in-depth evaluation. If your psychological symptoms are caused by substance abuse (addiction often leads to feelings of depression and anxiety), residential treatment may be your best option. However, if it is found that a diagnosable mental illness superseded your addiction, dual diagnosis is likely the best choice.

Integrated Treatment

Dual diagnosis treatment hasn’t always been an option – in fact, it wasn’t available until the early 1990s. Previous to its invention, those who suffered from mental illness and addiction were treated for each disorder separately. If symptoms of two conditions overlapped, individuals usually weren’t treated for mental illness until they had been sober for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, the symptoms of the untreated disorder would often lead the patient right back to drinking or drug use. Now, addiction specialists, psychiatrists, and other medical professionals understand that all existing conditions must be treated at the same time. Nowadays, there is no dividing line between mental health and addiction – both are treated as part of a comprehensive issue, and understood to be highly interrelated.
In order for long-term recovery to be achieved, it is crucial that the team of staff members at the treatment center you chose is highly varied and experienced. Rather than having three therapists on staff, for example, be sure the center has therapists, counselors, and a licensed psychiatrist. It is also crucial that the center acknowledges just how important certain psychiatric medications are to prolonged sobriety. Additionally, fully integrated treatment will be extremely beneficial – not just treatment that includes mental, emotional, and physical health, but treatment that includes loved ones in therapy, and continuously educates loved ones on addiction and mental health.

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