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What is Dual Diagnosis

When a person has both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, they have a dual diagnosis. It is also referred to as a co-occurring disorder or even comorbidity.

Being that one disorder can heighten symptoms of the other disorder or even mask it completely. It can oftentimes be difficult to determine which disorder came first. Therefore, it makes it more difficult to diagnose.

Those with a serious mental health disorders are also dependent on drugs and alcohol 50% of which is estimated. 7.9 million people in the U.S. suffer from both mental health disorders and substance abuse disorder at the same time. More than half were men, statistics show.

When an individual is unable to control their urges, then a substance use disorder would be diagnosed. This is even when the usage of the substance doesn’t stop even though there are serious consequences as a result. A substance use disorder is a mental health disorder, being drugs and alcohol negatively affect brain function.

Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior, and even a combination, according to The American Psychiatric Association. They can cause distress and problems in social, work, and/or family activities.

Both disorders and mental illnesses affect the ability of an individual to be able to effectively take part in his or her daily life in a fulfilling positive way.

What substance abuse and mental health issues commonly occur together?

The most common combination of dual disorders is substance abuse and mood and/or anxiety disorder. Although, there are numerous combinations of substance use and mental health disorders that can occur. Those mental health disorders that can be common comorbidities are PTSD, depression, bipolar, ADHD, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, or psychotic illnesses.

Self-Medicating Mental Illness Through Substance Abuse

Many people who have dual diagnosis disorder use their substance abuse disorder to medicate the distressing symptoms of their mental illness.

It’s been reported that 22% of people with anxiety disorders, 22% of them used alcohol and drugs to help alleviate their symptoms. While 21% of those with PTSD used drugs and alcohol to help relieve their symptoms. 41% of those with Bipolar (type 1) used drugs and alcohol and 23% of those with major depression.

Even though self-medicating may seem like a quick resolve and not harmful at first. Especially when our society normalizes how alcohol is acceptable. To be used to take the edge off from a rough day or help deal with uncomfortable emotions, to party on. However, over time substance use disorder can develop. When you are using alcohol to remedy a mental illness (although may not yet be diagnosed) of depression or anxiety, for example, you are only exacerbating symptoms further down the road.

dual diagnosis

What are the signs and symptoms of co-occurring disorders?

Depending on the dual diagnosis, there will be specific signs and symptoms exhibited. Symptoms will be symptoms from drug and/or alcohol use disorder but they’re also indicative of the specific mental health disorder the person is experiencing as well.

Fortunately, there are drug and alcohol screening tools that make it much easier for mental health clinics to help identify co-occurring disorders.

Signs of substance abuse disorders can include:

  • Unable to control drug or alcohol use
  • Abrupt personality changes or changes in behavior
  • Risky behavior (ex. risky driving and unsafe sex)
  • Craving substance
  • Socially isolating self from family, friends, and favorite activities
  • Build-up of tolerance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if the substance is not used
  • Financial or legal problems

Signs of a mental health disorder (varies upon disorder), examples may include:

  • Eating and/or sleep problems
  • Unexplained physical pain
  • Confusion
  • Can’t function in daily life
  • Social isolation (going away from friends, favorite activities, and family members)
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Moderate to severe expressions of sadness, anger, fear, and worry
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Fluctuating mood, bouncing between highs and lows

There are also severe symptoms that can present themselves in a dual diagnosis which can include paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, or talk of suicide. If a person shows any of these symptoms it is important to get immediate attention from a qualified mental health professional immediately.

Treatment is more complex with dual diagnosis and is more complex, especially in severe situations. Though, recovery is obtainable with the proper treatment program.

It’s been shown that those who have a dual diagnosis with substance use disorder can experience more severe mental health and medical challenges. They may also require a longer period of treatment as well compared to people who have a single disorder. For the best outcome for the greatest amount of success, it is essential for both substance abuse disorder and mental health illness to simultaneously be treated.

Does Harmony Healing Center specialize in the treatment of dual diagnoses?

At our Harmony Healing Facility we specialize in treating dual diagnosis disorders along with simple addiction. We have several programs and treatment options to help support your desire for you or your loved one to make the change in life that will help build them an amazon life recovery. Which will help them build a brighter future as well.

We are located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. We have compassionate caring professionals who are committed to helping you with evidence-based treatment care you can trust.

The treatments we offer are medication-assisted treatment (MAT), Intensive Outpatient Program, Partial Care, and Outpatient Program. We also have several therapies such as individual, group, family counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), holistic, wellness, music therapy, and many more therapies available.

Here at Harmony Healing Center, we treat alcohol, opioid, heroin, benzo, and meth addiction.

Most insurances are accepted. We are nationally recognized, accredited and certified.

Contact us today at (888) 978-1697 and speak with one of our team members who would be happy to assist you!

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