The abuse of drugs, alcohol, or other substances presents one of life’s biggest challenges. In learning about the impact of substance abuse, you have probably come across the term “dual diagnosis.” But what is dual diagnosis, anyway?
This term is used by medical professional and treatment experts to refer to the kind of treatment necessary when someone with a substance use disorder also experiences anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues at the same time. When this happens, an individual has a co-occurring disorder, and dual-diagnosis treatment is how it is addressed.
It’s important to know what is dual diagnosis, since it often requires special, focused addiction treatment programs like those we offer at Fresh Start Recovery Center.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is when substance abuse and mental health issues occur together. Though they co-occur, that doesn’t mean that one causes the other. People come to dual-diagnosis issues from a variety of directions.
And the reason for that is that mental health challenges such as anxiety or depression and substance abuse have like risk factors relating to genetics, stress, trauma, or other types of negative life events.
Logically, this makes sense. For example, if you are someone who suffers from anxiety, for instance, you may be prone to moments where you look for relief on your own — through drugs or alcohol, for instance.
The sequence isn’t the most important thing in answering the question, “what is dual diagnosis.” The focus needs to be on getting the help you want, need, and deserve.
Treatment for Dual Diagnosis
It’s not wise to try to cope with dual-diagnosis disorders on your own. Treatment is a little different as researchers have learned that the most effective approach is to address both conditions concurrently, rather than through separate programs. Typically, it’s wise to start treatment focused on substance abuse issues because that will lay the groundwork for therapy.
However, the stages of treatment remain the same. Clinical staff will take a thorough assessment and medical history, which they will use to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. After that, you can likely expect a period of detox to flush the drugs or alcohol from your system. Then you will face a period of individual, and perhaps group therapy, or even alternative forms of therapy, to both get to the root of your problems and develop new coping skills.
The final stage involves aftercare, where you’ll be given resources to help guard against a relapse.
Dual Diagnosis Patterns
Doctors began recognizing the prevalence of co-occurring disorders in the 1980s. What they have learned since then suggests that substance abuse and mental illness can present themselves in almost any combination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the data indicate that someone with one of these conditions is twice as likely as the general population to experience the other. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that about 9 million people nationwide suffer from dual-diagnosis disorders.
Identifying the presence of a co-occurring disorder is tricky. Combinations of disorders, and their correlated symptoms, will vary. But according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, some common signs of substance abuse include:
- Extreme changes in behavior
- Mounting relationship problems
- Taking uncharacteristic risks
- Struggling to keep use in moderation
- Keeping drug paraphernalia around the house
Seeking Help for Dual Diagnosis at Fresh Start Recovery Center
Now that you know the answer to “what is dual diagnosis?” you may be wondering where you go from here. Treatment from a local rehab/recovery facility such as Fresh Start is the right next step. Fresh Start and its team of doctors and addiction specialists focus on evidence-based care with an eye towards the individual. We offer a full spectrum of programs, such as our drug addiction treatment program. Don’t waste another minute, pondering the question. Contact Fresh Start Recovery Center today at 833.625.0398 for an initial confidential consultation. Your future awaits.