17 Dec How To Know When You Need Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Recovering from addiction isn’t easy under any circumstances. Withdrawal symptoms are only part of the equation. If you’re recovering from substance abuse, you know that the real challenge is the mental struggle. It’s even harder to get through the challenges of substance abuse recovery when you have a co-occurring mental health issue. Whether this mental illness was present before the substance abuse or was triggered by substance abuse, it can make recovery even harder. When co-occurring disorders of addiction and mental illness are diagnosed, it’s known as dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis is present in almost nine million people every year. It’s not uncommon for people to have a dual diagnosis, but it does require specialized and tailored treatment. Without a dual diagnosis, it’s common for the patient to end up trapped in the circular relationship between substance abuse and mental illness. This inhibits recovery attempts from both conditions.
Why Are Co-Occurring Disorders So Hard To Recognize?
Only around 7.4% of the nine million people mentioned above get proper dual diagnosis treatment for their co-occurring disorders. Why is a dual diagnosis so hard to identify? The main reason is that the symptoms of substance abuse and mental illness often significantly overlap. Another reason is that it can be hard to verify which one of the disorders began first. Drugs and alcohol rewire the brain, which can cause mental illness where it wasn’t there before.
Yet, the statistics on co-occurring disorders are eye-opening. Half of those with mental illness also have a problem with substance abuse, according to the National Alliance On Mental Illness. Here are a few more startling dual diagnosis statistics:
• Over half of those with a drug abuse problem also have at least one serious mental health problem
• Nearly 40% of alcoholics have a serious mental health problem
• Men who are mentally ill are especially prone to substance abuse
• The most common mental illnesses in those with a dual diagnosis are depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder
Identifying the Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders
In order to get the appropriate treatment for co-occurring disorders, you have to also be properly diagnosed. If you suspect that you may have co-occurring disorders, there are some key signs. Use the following analysis to assess your condition. Try to answer these four questions as honestly as possible.
1. Do you remember a time of happiness and satisfaction in your life before you began abusing drugs or alcohol? If you can think back before your drinking or drug abuse got out of control, try to assess the way you felt with the following:
• Did you feel stressed?
• Were you hurt by something?
• Did you feel angry, depressed or tense?
• Did you have thoughts of suicide?
• Did you have extreme mood swings?
If you can’t remember a time in your life before substance abuse where you felt happy and content, then you might have an underlying mental illness. It’s very common for people with mental illness to self-medicate by using drugs or alcohol to cope with challenges, painful emotions and stress.
2. Did you start drinking or using drugs to avoid dealing with feelings of fear, anxiety or stress? This is a continuation of the prior question. Think back to when you first started abusing a substance. Was it to alleviate social anxiety? Was it to bury your feelings about a difficult situation? Drugs and alcohol can change your perceptions and bury your intense feelings. However, this is only temporary. The longer you use them, the negative feelings you were trying to bury will become more intense.
3. Have you experienced a traumatic event such as abuse, living through a disaster or witnessing something tragic? Trauma often leads to certain mental disorders. If you experienced something traumatic as a child, you’re even more likely to develop a mental disorder. Trauma, like substance abuse, can rewire the brain to cause altered perception and stress.
4. Do you have mental illness in your family tree? There’s a genetic component to many instances of mental illness. If you have a relative that has been formally diagnosed with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or substance abuse, you’re more likely to develop one or more of these issues yourself.
If you can answer affirmatively to any of the above questions, it’s very possible that you have a co-occurring disorder. If you’re experiencing difficulty in your current treatment for substance abuse or mental illness, it could be that you need treatment for a dual diagnosis.
How To Identify Co-Occurring Disorders In Your Loved One
If you suspect that a close friend or family member is suffering from co-occurring disorders of addiction and mental illness, you might be wondering how to identify the signs. Many symptoms of substance abuse and mental illness overlap, so it can be hard to determine if your loved one needs treatment for a dual diagnosis. However, if you already know that your loved one has been diagnosed with mental illness, you can keep an eye out for some of the following signs of substance abuse:
• Lack of money or selling off valuable possessions
• Unusual and erratic behavior
• Decrease in personal hygiene
• Withdrawal from friends and family
• Dilated or contracted pupils
• Needle marks, bruising or constant nose problems
• Drug paraphernalia like empty pill bottles, needles or lighters
It’s more difficult to discern whether your loved one has a mental illness on top of substance abuse. However, if your loved one has been in treatment for substance abuse, but is having a hard time, you might consider the following questions as to whether they also have a prior mental health problem:
• Do they have a family history of mental disorders?
• Have they exhibited depression symptoms?
• Have they had delusions or hallucinations?
• Have they exhibited reckless behavior and uncontrollable rage?
• Have you seen dramatic mood swings or energy levels?
If you suspect that your loved one has a dual diagnosis condition, it’s important not to make them feel bad or ashamed. Simply encourage them to get help by seeking treatment for co-occurring disorders.
Steps For Treatment of a Dual Diagnosis
• Evaluate the patient for the correct diagnosis and the best options for recovery. More severe cases usually require an inpatient program. Outpatient programs can work for those with less severe conditions.
• A period of detox is necessary for anyone with an active substance abuse problem before other treatments can start.
• Rehab starts with therapy techniques to address co-occurring disorders.
New Method Wellness is a treatment center for substance abuse and mental health. We specialize in dual diagnosis treatment. If you or a loved one are struggling with the co-occurring disorders of substance abuse and a mental health issue, give us a call today to find out how we can help.