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Dual Diagnosis Treatment

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Dual diagnosis is a condition in which an individual who suffers from an addiction to drugs or alcohol also suffers from a co-occurring mental health disorder. Dual diagnosis is a rather new concept that many treatment centers are just now learning about and focusing on and outside of the normal treatment center or rehabilitation program, the condition is rarely discussed. Individuals who are dually diagnosed should be closely monitored and they must receive specialized treatment as they are typically at a high risk for suicide and other behaviors of self harm.

Understanding Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis is a term used to define an individual who suffers from multiple medical conditions or disorders at the same time. Dual meaning more than one and diagnosis meaning a condition that is diagnosed which may include addiction, mental illness or other medical health condition. In most cases, dual diagnosis means that an individual suffers from both addiction and a co-occurring mental condition such as depression or anxiety but it may also refer to an individual who is addicted to drugs or alcohol and also suffers from a health condition such as AIDS.

People who suffer form dual diagnosis are often difficult to treat because it’s sometimes hard to determine whether the problem was caused by drug or alcohol use or if the drug or alcohol use was the result of the problem. It’s important that the therapist, doctor or counselor be able to determine the root cause of the condition in order to be able to apply proper treatment for the condition. Often times the psychological issues are caused by the addiction but in other cases, addiction is the result of an individual trying to self medicate or compensate for some type of psychological issue.

One of the things that makes dual diagnosis so difficult to treat is the fact that people with co-occurring conditions usually cover the problem. The use of drugs or alcohol may mask the symptoms of a mental illness such as depression or anxiety or in some cases, the mental condition may mask the symptoms of addiction. Either way, the covering up of one condition over another makes it difficult to get to the bottom of the problem and provide proper treatment. This is why it is so important that anyone seeking help at a drug or alcohol treatment center be 100% straight forward with their counselors and therapists about their condition, their addiction and any other questions they are asked to assure that they are properly diagnosed and treated.

What Types of Addiction are Commonly Associated with Dual Diagnosis and Require Treatment

Various types of addiction are associated with dual diagnosis including alcoholism, cocaine addiction, heroin addiction and many prescription medication addictions. Virtually no drug is left out of the possibility of being involved in a dual diagnosis situation. Marijuana may be to blame as well as crystal meth or various other substances.

Often times people who smoke marijuana suffer from dually diagnosed anxiety disorders or depression. Various eating disorders can also be present when there is a marijuana addiction. Another common culprit that causes serious mental conditions including permanent psychosis is methamphetamine. Many people who use methamphetamine for a prolonged period of time also suffer from schizophrenia and various other mental health conditions.

Common Psychological Problems Associated with Dual Diagnosis

Although any problem could be present in addition to an addiction to drugs or alcohol, there are some very common psychological conditions that are often associated with addiction. The four most common psychological disorders that are associated with dual diagnosis include anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder.

Dual diagnosis is difficult to pinpoint because people often self medicate in order to help them with their mental illness. People who have severe anxiety or other mental illness often use drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with their condition and effectively placing a band aid on their condition, masking the problem so that they can “cope.” Unfortunately, in most cases, this self medication only makes matters worse and not only can this cause the mental condition to get worse, it also makes it difficult for a counselor, therapist or doctor to recognize the condition that is at the root of the problem.

Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis

There are various symptoms that can be associated with dual diagnosis depending on the type of addiction that an individual suffers from as well as what co-occurring condition is also present such as a health condition or mental illness. Various symptoms of addiction such as changes in attitude or social behavior are often present. Individuals who are addicted to substances may also steal from their loved ones, sell their own personal items in order to raise money to support their habit and they will usually perform poorly at work or school.

Those suffering from mental illness may be depressed and not take care of themselves. They often have negative changes in their own personal hygiene and will sometimes have violent outbursts or various anger related issues. Many people who suffer from mental illness are schizophrenic and react by making comments or actions related to others being “out to get them.” Bipolar (extreme highs and lows in attitude and emotion) is also common with dual diagnosis. Additionally, people who are dually diagnosed often suffer from severe anxiety that causes them to have difficulty focusing on normal activities.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Treatment for dual diagnosis is vital to the successful recovery from addiction for anyone who also suffers from a co-occurring mental condition. It is estimated that more than 53% of all people who suffer from an addiction to drugs also suffer from a mental illness. Further, 37% of all people who suffer from alcohol addiction are suffering from a co-occurring mental illness as well. These patients are high risk patients when they enter treatment because they often have suicidal thoughts or have even attempted suicide previously.

Dual diagnosis patients are unpredictable in part due to their addiction and more so due to their mental state. Treatment for dual diagnosis is provided in the form of psychological counseling for both the addiction and the mental illness. Not all treatment centers are able to treat dually diagnosed patients as some are not properly trained in the various mental conditions that accompany a drug addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment centers staff a range of medical professionals including psychiatric professionals and addiction treatment specialists to provide rounded and optimal care for dually diagnosed patients.