The term “dual disorder” refers to people with a substance abuse disorder who have an underlying mental health issue. They are often the root cause of an individual’s addiction problems. Read on to learn more about the answer to the question, “What is a dual diagnosis?” and how vital it is to address an addiction and mental health issue simultaneously during treatment.
Problems With Past Dual Diagnosis Treatment
One of the tragedies of those living with a co-occurring mental disorder is that mental health problems often go untreated. It is easy to become distracted by the outward symptoms of an addiction. In the past, the therapist separated the two problems and treated them separately. Sometimes there was no attempt by professionals to learn or understand what a dual diagnosis is and how treat the condition.
You would enter a treatment facility and receive help for your addiction but be left to struggle with a co-occurring mental disorder alone. Doctors would then make recommendations on who the client could see separately for their mental disorders. However, the time lapse between addiction treatment often contributed to increasing rates of relapse.
Another problem with treating each condition separately is that clients did not receive comprehensive care. Having one doctor treat the addiction and another treating mental disorder led to a lack of coordination between the two. Dual diagnosis treatment is still well behind what we need to fully help individuals suffering from the problem.
Common Mental Health Issues Driving Addiction
Certain mental health conditions consistently manifest among individuals working to overcome an addiction. It is essential that any client showing signs of a mental disorder have treatment of that problem worked into their long-term recovery plan.
Here are some typical mental problems in individuals that may cause them to wonder, “What is dual diagnosis, and is that my issue?”:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder — People with ADHD suffer from a neurological condition that leads to difficulty completing tasks, paying attention, and controlling impulsive behavior. Many people with an addiction started turning to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with their ADHD symptoms.
- Bipolar Disorder — Bipolar disorder causes major shifts in a person’s mood. The root cause is an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Genetics also factor into the development of bipolar disorder. The shifts in emotion, referred to as episodes, often last for days or even weeks. People with the condition often end up in legal trouble, have thoughts of suicide, and end up abusing drugs and alcohol.
- Depression — People with clinical depression find themselves dealing with sustained feelings of sadness and hopelessness. They turn to substance abuse as a way of making themselves feel better or drowning out painful thoughts. It can be helpful for people to go to a depression treatment center.
Drugs and alcohol aggravate a mental illness by changing the brain’s responses to an outside stimulus or the way they react to stress or changes in their environment. Addiction often ends up making the symptoms of a mental disorder worse.
Signs of a Dual Diagnosis
If you are still wondering what is dual diagnosis, below are some typical symptoms found from those with the condition:
- You experience sudden changes in your behavior
- It is hard for you to deal with daily tasks
- You slack on your responsibilities
- You begin neglecting your personal hygiene
- Act out in erratic and impulsive ways
- You reject any attempts to go into treatment
- You constantly have problems managing your finances
- Your performance at school or work is suffering
Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to deal with your problems only makes things worse. You begin to take more as your mental health issues worsen. That causes your tolerance to grow, which means you must consume larger amounts to feel any effect. This vicious cycle is what leads to the development of a dual diagnosis.
Get Help With a Dual Diagnosis at Phoenix Rising
Phoenix Rising provides help for those who meet the definition of what is dual diagnosis. We offer long-term stay options, holistic treatment, and an aftercare program designed to help you deal with your dual diagnosis.
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Take the first steps toward a whole-body recovery at our scenic Palm Springs ranch by contacting us at 855.232.8211.