With the increase in mental illness diagnoses has also come a surge or substance abuse issues. When these two disorders are combined, it’s known as a dual diagnosis.

You may have heard this term before, but what does it actually mean?


What Is A Dual Diagnosis?

When someone has a dual diagnosis, they are confirmed to have both a mental illness and substance abuse issue. These two disorders frequently occur together; about 50% of people who have one of these problems typically develop the other at some point as well.

A dual diagnosis can be a combination of depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety, or any other mental illness with an addiction to alcohol, opioids, or other substances. These disorders on their own can be tricky to navigate; and when they’re working together, they could be even more confusing and possibly dangerous. However, there are plenty of resources and solutions out there designed specifically to treat this combination and help individuals with dual diagnosis find hope.


Mental Health & Substance Abuse

There are several reasons why mental health and substance abuse issues are regularly connected: both types of disorders have similar risk factors including stress, trauma, & even genetics.

Here’s how they may start to overlap:

  1. People with mental health issues self-medicate with substances or alcohol
  2. Substance abuse can change how the brain works, which can lead to mental illness

For those who have a dual diagnosis, it can be a bit of a double-edged sword to deal with these illnesses without treatment. This is mainly because when one of these disorders gets worse, the other usually does as well. For example, using drugs can tend to make mental health symptoms more severe.

Because of this, it’s important to notice the sign of a dual diagnosis so you can seek effective treatment for yourself or someone you know who may be fighting it.


How to Notice a Dual Diagnosis

Not all dual diagnoses are the same, especially since the type of mental illness and drug varies by patient. However, here are some common risk factors or signs of having both kinds of disorders:

  • Using substances to cope with unpleasant thoughts and emotions
  • One triggers the other (getting depressed when drinking, getting anxious when using)
  • Strong family history of mental illness or substance abuse
  • Previous treatment for either disorder without success

Since a dual diagnosis can be very serious, it’s important to seek help for both issues in order to completely move on.


Treating Your Dual Diagnosis

There are slightly different types of treatment when addressing mental health & substance abuse, but some may overlap to deliver similar effects and thought patterns. They both encourage healthy coping strategies, finding a support network, & more. Types of treatment for dual diagnoses may include:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Medication
  • Support groups and counseling
  • Self help & self care strategies
  • Detox & withdrawal treatment (for substance abuse only)

 If you or someone you know has been suffering from a combination of mental health & substance use issues, contact us at 866-488-8349 to get more information about dual diagnosis and appropriate treatment. There are solutions out there, and recovery is always possible.