Many people who struggle with drug or alcohol also have co-occurring mental health disorders. Those conditions often contribute to the situation of their substance use disorder. This is also known as a dual diagnosis. People who suffer from dual diagnosis require specialized treatment plans tailored to their own personal needs.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health or NSDUH has determined that around 45% of people who have addiction have a dual diagnosis in the form of a co-occurring mental health disorder. When a person with a dual diagnosis seeks help for their substance use disorder, they can also get treatment that can address their mental health disorder as well. This can help them to regain their sobriety and address their mental health so that they can live their best life.
How Common is Dual Diagnosis?
Around 8.5 million people battling drug or alcohol addiction are also estimated as having a co-occurring mental health disorder. About one out of every four people who seek help for a mental illness also have substance use disorder. Sadly, many people who have both issues often never seek help. Around 8.3% of people who struggle with dual diagnosis get help for both disorders.
Treatment centers that focus on both addiction and mental health disorders are the best options available for individuals with dual diagnosis. During the intake phase, a mental health professional who is also trained in the area of drug and alcohol addiction can take a full inventory of the person’s background. The individual will also undergo a comprehensive medical exam so that the best possible treatment plan can be determined for them.
What are the Most Common Mental Health Disorders in Dual Diagnosis?
Some co-occurring mental health disorders are very common in individuals who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. In many cases, the mental health condition is what led to the person abusing the substance in the first place. Often, a person starts to abuse alcohol or drugs as a way of masking the symptoms typical of their mental health disorder. Sometimes, a behavioral disorder is what leads to an addiction problem.
The following mental health disorders are commonly linked to substance use disorder:
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD: People with ADHD often turn to alcohol or drugs to deal with their symptoms. Some are prescribed stimulants to treat the condition, but that can lead to substance use disorder.
- Bipolar disorder: Many people who have bipolar disorder turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to escape their symptoms. This can quickly lead to a serious addiction.
- Borderline personality disorder: People with borderline personality disorder often end up doing drugs and become addicted.
- Depression: When the symptoms of depression consume a person’s life, they might turn to drugs or alcohol to feel better. Unfortunately, substances can only exacerbate depression symptoms.
- Eating disorders: Individuals with eating disorders usually turn to drugs that suppress the appetite.
- Generalized anxiety disorder or GAD: Many people suffer from GAD. Some turn to drugs or alcohol to combat their symptoms but end up with a serious problem.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD: Individuals with OCD often also suffer from depression or anxiety. As a result, it’s not unusual for them to turn to alcohol or drugs to alleviate their symptoms.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD: PTSD can be crippling. People who struggle with it often turn to drugs or alcohol to get the happy, euphoric feeling they lack.
- Schizophrenia: Individuals with schizophrenia are also likely to develop a substance use disorder as a way to self-medicate to blunt their symptoms.
Treatment for Dual Diagnosis
Treatment for dual diagnosis can sometimes be complex due to the direct relationship between addiction and mental health disorders. Often, people who have a mental health disorder might have never turned to drugs or alcohol if not for that condition. While they might turn to substances to feel better, in reality, things only get worse.
Personalized treatment plans are necessary to help individuals with dual diagnosis. It’s important to include therapy sessions and meetings with a psychiatrist and medical personnel. Sometimes, it’s helpful to include the person’s family in the therapy process so that they can understand how their loved one’s rehab and recovery should progress.
Once a person is at the recovery stage, they will get a personalized plan for their aftercare treatment. This can help them stay on the right track and retain the tools they gained during rehab.
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