a patient talking to their doctor about dual diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis and Addiction Treatment

Every year, millions of people around the world suffer from substance abuse disorder (SUD). Unfortunately, many of them also suffer from co-occurring mental health issues, the effects of trauma, and other health concerns. The National Survey on Drug Use & Health revealed that more than 9 million US adults experienced mental issues and substance abuse disorder simultaneously in 2018. Until the 1990s, people with mental health and substance abuse issues typically received treatment for one condition at a time. Today, individuals with SUD alongside co-occurring mental health issues receive a dual diagnosis.

Signs and Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis

Despite the prevalence of dual diagnosis, many people are unaware that the signs and symptoms of mental health challenges and chemical dependence often occur at the same time. While symptoms can vary widely depending upon the specific mental health concern and type of substance used, certain physical indicators and behavior patterns may signal a need for professional intervention. Symptoms of substance use disorder include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Engaging in risky behavior
  • Loss of control over substances
  • Using substances in secret or in dangerous conditions
  • Feeling like you need drugs or alcohol to function
  • Bloodshot, glazed eyes and dilated pupils
  • Poor physical coordination
  • Dramatic changes in habits or priorities

What Prevents Dual Diagnosis Patients from Seeking Help?

The first and perhaps most difficult challenge facing a client with a dual diagnosis is the denial that they are chemically dependent. It’s not easy for people to admit that they’re addicted to drugs and alcohol. It’s also difficult for some people to accept and admit that they have a mental health challenge. Instead of seeking help, many people with a dual diagnosis ignore their problems and hope they go away.

Understanding Dual Diagnosis

Treating addiction and mental health concerns simultaneously is the best way to approach a dual diagnosis. Mental health challenges and addiction have common risk factors, including genetics, stress, and trauma. People may develop a substance use disorder as a result of an improperly treated mental health condition. In many cases, people suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD, and other mental health and psychiatric disorders use drugs or alcohol to feel better. Self-medicating can lead to an unhealthy dependence on drugs and alcohol, which, in turn, can lead to SUD. Becoming chemically dependent can also cause people to develop related psychological conditions.

Symptoms of a mental health condition can include:

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Problems with concentration
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Avoiding friends, family, and social activities
  • Dramatic changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability
  • Excessive fear, worry, anxiety

Substance Use Disorder and Mental Illness

According to reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 37% of people who abuse alcohol and 53% of people who abuse drugs also have at least one serious mental illness. Moreover, 29% of mentally ill individuals abuse alcohol or drugs. You might need to seek professional intervention if you or a loved one engages in the following behavior patterns:

  • Using drugs and alcohol to feel better
  • Drinking or using drugs to alleviate depression
  • Feeling anxious without drugs or alcohol
  • Drinking or using drugs to cope with unresolved trauma or abuse

Addiction and Mental Health Treatment That Work

At Solution Based Treatment & Detox, we understand the connections between mental health and substance use disorder. If you feel like you are out of options, we are proud to welcome you–or someone you love–into our community of healing. Contact Solution Based Treatment and Detox by calling 833.999.1941 to learn more about our life-saving dual diagnosis treatment options.