What If I Have More Than One Disorder?

Being diagnosed with a mental health or substance use disorder (SUD) can be overwhelming. It is important to recognize that the prevalence of people that struggle with dual diagnoses exceeds 7.7 million adults annually. Although treatment for dual diagnoses is challenging and complex, it is essential to understand that it is possible to manage and overcome multiple co-occurring conditions.

What Is a Dual-Diagnosis Disorder?

A person with a dual diagnosis has both a mental health disorder and a co-occurring SUD. Nearly half of people that struggle with a mental health disorder will also experience SUD, or vice versa, at some point in their lives.

Why Are Dual Diagnoses as Prevalent as They Are?

There is no one specific cause of why mental health disorders and SUDs tend to occur together. Instead, there are a few possibilities that research has narrowed down to explain the prevalence of dual diagnoses.

First, it is important to acknowledge that although these conditions often occur together, it does not mean that one condition necessarily caused the other. It can be difficult to detect what disorder developed first, especially because signs and symptoms may present themselves similarly.

Similar Risk Factors

One possibility of why these conditions often occur together is that mental illnesses and substance use disorders share similar risk factors. For example, genetic susceptibilities, such as having a genetic predisposition to addiction in one’s family, or environmental factors, such as neglect or other childhood trauma, can contribute to both the development of mental illness and SUDs.

Using Substances to Cope

Another possibility is that mental illnesses can contribute to alcohol and drug use. Many people with unresolved mental health problems turn to substances to self-medicate. Although self-medicating may seem like an effective way to experience relief, it is temporary and only exacerbates symptoms. More often, self-medicating leads to chemical dependency and addiction.

Influence on the Brain

Another reason why dual diagnoses occur is that substance use can trigger mental illness and associated mental health symptoms. Substance use and SUDs affect the same brain areas impacted by mental illness. Substance use can change the brain and enhance the development of mental illness.

Warning Signs Of Dual Diagnoses

Like any condition, the signs and symptoms of dual diagnoses vary from person to person. Factors that pertain to the presence or intensity of symptoms include:

  • The intensity and frequency of substance use
  • The substance used
  • Preexisting mental health issues
  • Unresolved trauma
  • The reason for initial substance use

However, there are broad warning signs that you can become familiar with that may point in the direction of the presence of one or more disorders. If you or your loved one are exhibiting any of the following symptoms, consider seeking a professional opinion for accurate diagnoses and associated treatment.

For the presence of a mental illness, warning signs may include:

  • Signs of aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to perform daily tasks
  • Feeling numb, lacking energy, or feeling hopeless
  • Feeling confused, anxious, or worried
  • Having persistent memories or reliving trauma
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Suicidal ideation or attempts

For the presence of an SUD, warning signs may include:

  • Substance use that causes strain on relationships
  • Engaging in secretive or problematic substance use
  • Increasing risk-taking behavior
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home
  • Using alcohol or other drugs to self-medicate mental health distress
  • Using drugs to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms
  • Continuing to use substances despite the negative consequences that it may cause
  • Unexplained changes in personality or attitude

Treatment Options For Dual Diagnoses

Treatment for dual diagnoses must treat both conditions simultaneously. For treatment to be effective, an individual must stop using alcohol or other drugs. It is important to recognize that there can be consequences to quitting cold turkey or quitting without medical supervision. In this case, outpatient detoxification becomes a valuable resource as it allows clients to have support from medical professionals throughout their detox process. This ensures that clients are safe and healthy as they rid their bodies of chemical substances.

Following Detox

After time in detox, individuals with dual diagnoses should consider an intensive outpatient treatment program (IOP), which bridges the gap between residential treatment and standard outpatient care. IOPs are flexible yet highly structured, allowing clients to prioritize their recovery while maintaining responsibilities outside of the treatment setting.

Any treatment route should encourage behavioral therapies to encourage the healing process effectively. Peer-led support groups are also essential to provide emotional and social support for clients. In some cases, medications may be prescribed to reduce substance withdrawal symptoms or alleviate mental health distress.

If you have more than one disorder, you are among the 7.7 million Americans who struggle with co-occurring disorders. It is important to recognize the prevalence of dual diagnoses so that you know that you are not alone. Dual diagnoses are complex but treatable. Effective treatment must treat both conditions simultaneously and encourage behavioral therapies combined with medication. Vanity Wellness Center is an outpatient rehab center that specializes in providing dual diagnosis treatment. We are committed to helping our clients overcome the underlying reasons that led them to substance use while motivating them to achieve sober, healthier lives. We offer several different treatment programs to help individualize our client’s care. If you or a loved one needs help, don’t wait. To learn more about our dual diagnosis program and treatment center, reach out to us today by calling (866) 587-1737.

Categories: Vanity NewsTags: , By Published On: May 12th, 2022

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