Who is Affected by Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis occurs when an individual is grappling with both a substance abuse problem and a mental health disorder at the same time. For many, this condition is a reality, and can be extremely complex to live with on a day-to-day basis.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), several people are afflicted with a dual diagnosis. In fact, out of the 17.5 million Americans who struggle with mental health disorders, 4 million of them are faced with a co-occurring substance use disorder. SAMHSA also reports the following in regards to dual diagnosis:

  • Out of the 4 million people who have a dual diagnosis, less than 50% of them obtained any form of treatment for their mental health issues
  • Men are more likely than women to experience a dual diagnosis
  • 34% of individuals with a dual diagnosis receive treatment for a mental health condition while only 2% enter into a drug treatment program for help (approximately on 12% of individuals receive treatment for both conditions)
  • Roughly 21% of individuals with a dual diagnosis are addicted to popular prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet

With nearly 8% of the American population struggling with a dual diagnosis, understanding what this condition is and how it can be treated is a must.

What Does a Dual Diagnosis Look Like?

Dual diagnoses are often very specific to the type of mental illness that is occurring and the substances that are being abused with it. However, there are several common symptoms that can help signify if an individual is indeed dealing with a dual diagnosis. Consider the following:

  • Uses drugs and/or alcohol as a way to cope with emotions
  • Social withdrawal
  • Significant changes in mood/energy
  • Reckless or violent behavior
  • Interpersonal problems due to poor behaviors
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Inability to maintain employment and/or responsibilities at a job
  • Abnormal worry or concern
  • Anxiety that can only be dealt with through specific behaviors
  • Problems concentrating
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Strong feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness

It is extremely common for individuals to only receive treatment for either their mental health issues or their substance use disorder. When this occurs, neither issue is being appropriately treated, causing the dual diagnosis to grow worse over time. This means that the symptoms that one experiences as a result of his or her mental health disorder and substance use disorder will only grow in severity and potentially become more complex to treat.

Common Types of Dual Diagnosis

There are several different kinds of dual diagnoses, as there is truly no limit to what kinds of mental health issues/substance use disorders that people can experience at the same time. However, there are several common types of dual diagnoses that stand out from the rest.

Depression and Alcohol Use Disorder

Depression is by far one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that in 2016, 16.2 million American adults suffered from depression, which equals approximately 6.7% of the country’s population. Those who struggle with the painful symptoms of depression (such as feeling sad, lost, and hopeless) often turn to the use of alcohol to help drown out the intensity of these symptoms. And, as the consumption of alcohol becomes more frequent, addiction can develop alongside of one’s depression.

Anxiety and Sedative, Hypnotic, and Anxiolytic Use Disorder

Anxiety is just as prevalent in American society as depression is, as millions of people deal with the symptoms of this disorder on a regular basis. Some of these symptoms include feeling out of control, being overwhelmed with intense fear, and being crippled by anxious thoughts. As a result, many of those with anxiety are prescribed a benzodiazepine like Ativan or Xanax to manage these symptoms. However, when an individual experiences feeling better after using one of these benzodiazepines, he or she might take it upon him or herself to use more than prescribed, thus triggering the onset of addiction (which in this case, is known as sedative, hypnotic, and anxiolytic use disorder).

Other common dual diagnoses include borderline personality disorder and alcoholism, bipolar disorder and prescription painkiller addiction, and PTSD and opioid addiction.

Professional Help At Our Chattanooga Dual Diagnosis Program

Upon receiving a dual diagnosis, it is imperative that the individual has both conditions treated at the same time. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the most effective treatment for dual diagnosis is integrated intervention.

Integrated intervention provides comprehensive treatment for both disorders, as there is never to be a division between the treatment for the mental health disorder and the treatment for the substance use disorder. Addiction specialists and other mental health professionals at a Chattanooga dual diagnosis treatment center will work together to provide complete care for each individual so that both areas of concern are properly treated. This kind of treatment approach has proven to be the most impactful and effective for those who are grappling with a dual diagnosis.

Contact Our Dual Diagnosis Program In Chattanooga Today

If you are one of the many people who are afflicted with a dual diagnosis, know that there is help available. You do not have to continue on in a state of duress because of the conditions you are facing. By reaching out to a Chattanooga dual diagnosis program, you can develop the skills needed to overcome your challenges and begin living a happier, healthier life. Reach out for help today.

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