Dual Diagnosis

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Dual Diagnosis 2017-05-18T14:25:14+00:00

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorder, and co-morbidity are all terms used to describe anyone who has a serious psychological issue (diagnosed by a clinical professional) combined with addiction or substance abuse. It is often impossible to separate mental health and addiction because so many doctors misdiagnose addiction and confuse the symptoms. We know this because so many clients regain mental stability and normality once they address their addiction. Substance use is often regarded as “self-medicating” the symptoms of the emotional and mental disorders listed below:

NOTE:At Hope, we accept depression, anxiety disorders and most personality disorders together with addiction. However, we do not treat psychiatric patients with enduring paranoid schizophrenia and serious self-harm.

What causes Mental Illness?

Drug or alcohol induced psychosis is also very common, and if left untreated a vicious cycle or pattern of mental breakdown episodes and substance abuse relapse can then take hold resulting in dual diagnosis.

It is often impossible to separate mental health and addiction because so many doctors misdiagnose addiction and confuse the symptoms. We know this because so many clients regain mental stability and normality once they address their addiction.

It is common for people with MH to turn to using addictive and illicit substances to improve coping abilities, to help feel better, or decrease and numb feelings. Some call it “putting out fires with gasoline”. The problem is that self-medicating may work at first, providing the person with relief from their restless brains. However, the pain and the problems are now burning out of control and the gasoline ultimately makes the problems worse.

If you are dealing with a dual diagnosis (aka co-morbidity or co-occurring disorder), it means you have two serious illnesses at the same time and that these two conditions are complicating each other.

In order to successfully manage these separate issues, it is first necessary to identify where one ends and the other begins. It is also important that these two disorders are dealt with concurrently, as failure to treat one can make it almost impossible to treat the other.

The Connection between Addiction and Mental Illness

If you have developed a problem with alcohol or drugs, you have a higher than average likelihood of also having a psychiatric problem.

What came first the chicken or the egg? – This is a cliché often quoted to illustrate the point that first, we need to eliminate the substance-use to make a correct diagnosis and give an accurate prognosis.

What can cause mental illness? – Some conditions are known as reactive, i.e. depression due to loss of a loved one or job. Also as previously stated drug and alcohol use itself is a cause. Genetic causes have also been identified along with high levels of stress, trauma, and abuse, and there are many more factors involved in a person developing mental health issues.

Substance abuse and addiction increases the risk of developing mental health issues and suicidal thoughts, here are some stats from National Alliance on mental illness:

3% of the population are said to have a combination of mental illness and substance abuse or addiction issues.

50% of substance abusers have mental disorders.

37% of alcohol users and 53% of drug users have mental health issues.

Alcohol is the most common substance abused, next is cannabis and prescription medications.

Some people develop psychiatric problems as a result of substance abuse, but in the majority of cases, the dual diagnosis is a result of self-medication.

If you experienced symptoms of mental illness in the past, you may have turned to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope. It may be that this self-medication began even before you were aware that you were dealing with a psychiatric condition – you just found that getting drunk or high made you feel better.

Despite our differences, however, we have found we have much in common. Each illness has symptoms that interfere with our ability to function effectively and relate to ourselves and others. Our impaired functioning has created a series of problems and consequences for us, and we have responded by trying to protect ourselves in unhealthy ways.

Tim Hamilton & Pat Samples – The Twelve Steps and Dual Diagnosis

The most common types of psychiatric problems that people tend to experience with addiction would include:

  • Depression (most often with alcohol addiction)

  • Anxiety disorder (most often with alcohol, sedative or stimulant addiction)

  • Schizophrenia (most often with stimulant addiction)

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (most often with alcohol addiction)

  • Attention deficit disorder (most often with alcohol or stimulant addiction)

  • Bipolar disorder (most often with alcohol or stimulant addiction)

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (most often with sedatives or alcohol addiction)

  • Personality disorders (most often with alcohol and stimulant addiction)

  • Psychosis (can be induced by alcohol, hallucinogens, or stimulants)

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Hope Rehab

Misdiagnosis happens in some cases, as substance abuse and mental health conditions can be confused, the symptoms and consequences are similar, this usually means that when the addictions are treated successfully the client stabilises.

Whatever the case, apart from the addiction issues discussed above, low self-esteem as a result of feelings of inadequacy or lack of acceptance become a significant and detrimental part of the dual diagnosis. That requires serious attention to improve the remission of both the conditions.

At Hope Rehab, firstly we take away the drugs or alcohol and only allow safely prescribed medications. We offer an effective addiction treatment program that can also work well for those dealing with a dual diagnosis. We provide individualised care – this means the treatment path you follow will be based on an assessment of your exact needs. Our team is experienced at working with clients who have a co-occurring disorder.

If your psychiatric symptoms are due to the substance abuse alone (e.g. alcohol-induced depression), you are going to see an improvement once you quit this behaviour. If there is some underlying condition such as schizophrenia, the fact that you are sober now means that this problem can be managed properly.

The program here at Hope Rehab Thailand includes a number of approaches that have a good track record for helping people with a dual diagnosis:

After successful dual diagnosis treatment and a recovery program to follow up, many sufferers find their symptoms subside, and life takes on a healthy direction.



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What is Dual Diagnosis? By Simon Mott