What does it mean to have a dual diagnosis?
A person with a dual diagnosis has a mental illness as well as an alcohol or drug addiction. These circumstances usually occur together. At some point in their lives, almost half of persons who have a mental disease will also have a substance use disorder, and vice versa. The interplay of the two circumstances has the potential to exacerbate both.
Why do substance use problems and mental illnesses frequently coexist?
Even while these issues frequently occur simultaneously, this does not guarantee that one caused the other. In fact, determining which came first can be difficult.
Researchers believe there are three possible explanations for why they happen at the same time:
- Common risk factors may exacerbate both mental and drug use disorders. Genetics, stress, and trauma are some of these causes.
- Drug usage and substance use disorders can be exacerbated by mental illnesses. People with mental illnesses, for example, may take drugs or alcohol to feel better briefly. Self-medication is the term for this. Mental illnesses can also alter the brain, making it more probable that you will become addicted.
- Substance abuse and addiction can hasten the onset of a mental illness. Substance abuse can alter the brain in ways that make you more vulnerable to mental illness.
Which comes first: substance abuse or a mental illness?
Although one does not always cause the other, substance addiction and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are frequently related. Marijuana and methamphetamine abuse can lead to long-term psychotic reactions, while alcohol abuse can exacerbate depression and anxiety symptoms.
- Self-medicating with alcohol and narcotics is common in people suffering with mental health issues. People frequently abuse alcohol or drugs to alleviate the symptoms of an untreated mental illness, cope with uncomfortable emotions, or change their mood momentarily. Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, however, has negative side effects and, in the long term, typically worsens the symptoms it was intended to alleviate.
- Abuse of alcohol and other drugs can raise the risk of mental illness. It’s difficult to establish whether substance abuse causes mental health problems because they are produced by a complex combination of genetics, environment, and other variables. Abusing alcohol or drugs, on the other hand, may drive you over the edge if you are at risk for a mental health problem. For example, there is evidence that persons who overuse opiate medicines are more likely to develop depression, and frequent cannabis use has been related to a higher risk of schizophrenia.
- Abuse of alcohol and drugs can exacerbate the symptoms of a mental health disorder. Substance abuse can exacerbate or even cause new signs and symptoms of mental illness. Antidepressants, anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers can all interact with alcohol or drug abuse, making them less effective at treating symptoms and delaying recovery.
Recognizing the presence of a dual diagnosis
A dual diagnosis can be difficult to spot. It takes time to figure out what’s a mental health problem and what’s a drug or alcohol problem. The indications and symptoms differ based on the sort of substance abused, whether it’s alcohol, recreational drugs, or prescription prescriptions. Depression and marijuana usage, for example, may present itself in quite different ways than schizophrenia and alcohol consumption.
There are, however, some general indicators that you may have a co-occurring disorder:
- Do you use alcohol or drugs to cope with unpleasant memories or feelings, control pain or the intensity of your moods, confront frightening circumstances, or stay focused on tasks?
- Do you think there’s a link between your substance abuse and your mental health? Do you get depressed when you drink, for example? Or do you drink when you’re stressed or have a lot of bad memories?
- Has someone in your family struggled with a mental illness or abused alcohol or drugs?
- Even when you’re sober, do you feel melancholy, worried, or otherwise out of sorts?
- Have you received treatment for your addiction or mental health issue in the past? Was it your mental health issue that caused the substance abuse therapy to fail, or was it the other way around?
What are the options for dealing with a dual diagnosis at Tulasi Healthcare?
When a person has a dual diagnosis, both the conditions must be treated. One must abstain from using alcohol or drugs in order for the treatment to be effective. Behavioral therapies and medications may be used as treatments. Support groups can also help one to deal with emotional and social issues.