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Dual Diagnosis

Certain individuals with mental illness are more disposed to abusing drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin and alcohol among others. Mental and emotional disorders often accompany a drug or alcohol addiction; this is called dual diagnosis. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, almost one-third of dual diagnosis patients, and about half of those who suffer with severe mental illnesses, also suffer from substance abuse.

Those with dual diagnosis may use drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication. Some who suffer from conditions such as depression or anxiety may use these substances to feel less pain or feel calmer. Unfortunately, while they may provide a temporary feeling of happiness, drugs and alcohol do not treat or cure the underlying condition, in fact, they make it worse.

Drugs and alcohol can have a deteriorating effect on an individual’s mental health. This can happen both while they are intoxicated and also during detox. Treatment for dual diagnosis requires trained professionals who can administer the proper medication for the mental disorder, if necessary, and therapists with the experience to treat the underlying cause of the addiction.  Rehab can be a scary decision for anyone, especially when mental and emotional problems are the underlying cause. While treating just the addiction itself can be beneficial, it does not solve the problem. Unmanaged or unresolved psychological problems can cause an addict to relapse when not treated properly.

Drugs and alcohol can also be the cause of mental illness. Repeated use may cause some individuals to develop symptoms, such as hearing voices or experiencing visual hallucinations. These symptoms could manifest as a reaction to the drug or the first incident of psychosis for the individual.

People with mental disorders who abuse substances have a high risk of exhibiting impulsive and possibly violent behavior. They are more likely to misuse medication and may fail to seek the appropriate medical attention if something goes wrong.

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis

Due to the fact that psychiatric treatment is more effective in patients who are not abusing drugs, making sure they are safely detoxed is important. Family and friends can provide a positive and supportive atmosphere for their loved one. With their support and the proper medical treatment and therapy, many individuals with dual diagnosis will be able to fully participate in their recovery.

Inpatient and outpatient programs are available depending on the severity of the mental illness and addiction. Individual, group and family therapy, as well as self-help groups, can help a patient maintain their sobriety.

Those with a dual diagnosis must treat both disorders. For the treatment to work, they must stop using alcohol or drugs. Call 203-242-8271 to receive the specialized and appropriate care needed to learn how to overcome your drug addiction.