29 Jul What is Dual Diagnosis?
Many people who suffer from a variety of substance abuse issues also suffer from some kind of mental illness. This is called dual diagnosis because the person suffers from multiple illnesses. The Journal of the American Medical Association states that the number of people suffering from mental illness who also suffer from some kind of substance abuse is as high as 50 %. Oftentimes mental illness can lead to substance abuse, which in turn, makes the mental illness even more difficult to deal with. People who suffer from dual diagnosis should seek treatment for both illnesses, not just one.
When a person suffers from a dual diagnosis, it is important to treat both illnesses at the same time. This typically creates better outcomes for the patient. Focusing on only one illness at a time can end up leading to relapse. Ideally, patients should be treated for both illnesses from the same center because it allows for a more comprehensive and harmonious plan. Facilities such as Pacific Bay Recovery offer such treatment plans.
Patients who are treated at Pacific Bay Recovery go through a process to identify the root issues in their dual diagnosis. Individualized programs are created for each patient because no two diagnoses manifest exactly the same in different people. Those suffering from dual diagnosis typically benefit greatly from individual and family therapy, behavioral therapy, and relapse prevention.
While dual diagnosis can include any combination of substance abuse and mental health issues, the most common mental health issues seen are anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. While mental health issues do not directly cause addiction, and addiction does not directly cause mental health issues, the two together make one another worse. Oftentimes, people will use substances to self medicate. Which, in turn, makes their mental health issues worsen.
Many people are ashamed of substance abuse or mental health illnesses. This can lead to denial which makes treatment and diagnosis even harder. For this reason, it is important to look out for signs that a person may be suffering from dual diagnosis, and remind them that it is ok to ask for help. Some of these signs include an inability to lower substance use, feeling guilty about substance use, substances causing issues in life, feeling hopeless, concentration problems, poor sleep, racing thoughts, irritability, and always feeling on edge. Many people experience these symptoms every so often. However, when people notice these symptoms and feelings are becoming a part of everyday life, it may be time to seek help.
Dual diagnosis is not easy to treat. It typically requires a very personalized approach where both problems are treated at the same time. Therapy is one of the most important components for treating dual diagnosis. Methods for treating dual diagnosis include coping skills, educating the patient on their dual diagnosis, learning better decision-making strategies, identifying and avoiding triggers, and social skills training. It is very important that those people suffering from dual diagnosis have a strong support system at home to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle after treatment has concluded.