What is Dual-Diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis occurs when people who are suffering from drug or alcohol addiction show symptoms of emotional or psychiatric problems at the same time – hence the terms co-occurring disorders, co-morbidity, concurrent illnesses and dual disorder are also used to describe the condition.
Studies show that 37 percent of alcoholics and 53 percent of drug addicts have at least one co-occurring psychological disorder. On the other hand, research shows that 29 percent of all mentally ill persons also have drug or alcohol problems. The psychological or emotional illnesses that often co-occurs with substance abuse problems are depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders and other psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and personality disorders.
While a person’s substance addiction needs a particular treatment approach, it is very much interrelated with his psychiatric illness. Many dual diagnosis treatment centers recognize this interrelation between chemical dependencies and psychiatric disorders. Not only is an addict affected physically, socially, psychologically and spiritually by the two separate illnesses, both disorders may also aggravate each other.
When a dual diagnosis patient receives treatment for only one of their disorders, the untreated illness often causes the relapse of the previously treated condition. For example, a person who undergoes substance abuse rehab will most likely experience a relapse of his addiction if his psychological illness is not properly treated. His depression or anxiety disorder may cause him to seek temporary relief from drugs or alcohol once again, which can eventually cause the recurrence of his addiction.
It is not easy to identify which illness developed first in a dual diagnosis patient. In most cases, it is the psychiatric problem that triggers drug or alcohol dependency. A person suffering from depression may seek a calming feeling from drugs or alcohol. Likely, someone who is having an anxiety attack may turn to drugs and alcohol in his attempt to feel calmer.
These self-medication attempts by persons with emotional and psychological problems usually lead to their physical or psychological dependency on harmful substances. Unfortunately, this can also trigger worse psychiatric disorders as the substance abuse progresses. The depression that first led a person’s alcohol or drug addiction can develop into severe and life-threatening psychiatric illnesses in the long run.
According to NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Illness] – People with psychological illnesses often are susceptible to co-occurring disorders due to “downward drift.” In other words, as a of their mental illness they may find themselves living in marginal neighborhoods where drug use prevails. Having great difficulty developing social relationships, some people find themselves more easily accept consequence ed by groups whose social activity is based on drug use. Some may believe that an identity based on drug addiction is more acceptable than one based on a psychological illness.
There are people who become alcoholics or drug addicts first before developing a psychological disorder. This happens when an addict’s dependency on harmful substances becomes too severe that it damages his brain and starts to trigger emotional and psychiatric symptoms such as hallucinations, fits of rage, episodes of depression and even suicidal tendencies.
In dual diagnosis treatment both conditions of chemical dependency and psychiatric disorders should be treated simultaneously. However, most dual diagnosis treatment centers find it more important for a patient to undergo detox rehab or substance abuse withdrawal first, regardless of whether the primary problem is the addiction or the psychiatric illness.
According to WebMD, clients are usually made to stay in an inpatient facility for three to five days during drug detox so that they could be assisted to cope with withdrawal symptoms brought about by reduction of dose or complete cessation, as well as with legal and domestic problems brought about by the addiction. For most rehabs, this process is done in the inpatient facility because some must cope with difficult symptoms of withdrawal such as tremors, paranoia, and depression, as well as life-threatening ones such as seizures and suicidal tendencies. This is hence a more important consideration in the case of dual diagnosis treatment, where one condition can aggravate the other.
Detox rehab is usually done under close medical supervision, and only after the patient has shown considerable withdrawal from his substance abuse do his physicians start to focus on treating his psychiatric condition. This is the common practice in most dual diagnosis treatment centers. However, there are also those who do have rehab programs that offer simultaneous treatment for both addiction and psychiatric illnesses in dual diagnosis patients.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment – From The Web
About.com examines how dual diagnosis treatment can help when treating addiction. ”Dual Diagnosis” refers to those who have been diagnosed with major psychological health disorders and alcohol or substance addictions at the same time.
At least 50 percent of the 2 million Americans with severe psychological illness abuse illicit drugs or alcohol, compared to 15 percent of the general population, according to the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration. Read more…
If you would like more information about programs for the treatment of dual diagnosis, don’t hesitate to contact Hawaii Island Recovery anytime at 866-515-5032. We have highly-trained professionals ready to help.