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What is Dual Diagnosis?

Addiction can not only impact your cognition, judgment, and relationships, but it can also aggravate and cause mental health disorders. Worse still, you can develop a co-occurring condition that requires dual diagnosis treatment. But what is dual diagnosis and how common is it?

Each year, more than 30 million Americans ages 12 and older use illicit drugs at least once a month. Out of that 30 million, roughly two-thirds meet the criteria for a substance abuse disorder. Unfortunately, substance abuse disorders and addiction require treatment because they are potentially fatal and chronic diseases that can impact nearly every aspect of your life. In fact, drug overdoses are the number one overall cause of death among Americans under the age of 50, meaning your next use could be your last.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

So, what is dual diagnosis? This occurs when you have both substance abuse and mental health disorder. However, you don’t have to develop both conditions at the exact same time to have a dual diagnosis. While it may sound like a rare condition, 8.5 million adults struggle with a dual diagnosis each year.

If you are wondering what is dual diagnosis and how does it impact recovery, it’s important to remember that mental health symptoms can impact your drug and alcohol use. When mental health disorders cause you to experience distressing symptoms, it can become easy to cope by abusing drugs and alcohol because they can temporarily alleviate your symptoms.

Because drugs and alcohol release a rush of neurotransmitters, many of which can create feelings of happiness, euphoria, and relaxation, substances can become a dangerous coping mechanism. Self-medicating mental health symptoms with psychoactive substances can also make it more difficult to handle conflicts with others. Some of the most commonly occurring mental health disorders seen in dual diagnosis patients include:

  • Anxiety-related disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder
  • Depression and major depression disorder
  • Eating disorders, like bulimia and anorexia nervosa
  • Personality and mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder
  • ADHD and ADD

How Co-Occurring Conditions are Treated

It’s important to understand your treatment options. In order to fully recover from a co-occurring disorder, completing a dual diagnosis program is essential. If you fail to treat your mental health disorder, symptoms can make it difficult to avoid relapsing. Conversely, if you only treat your mental health symptoms and fail to get help for your substance abuse disorder, it can undermine your recovery.

Many inpatient and outpatient substance abuse disorder treatment centers offer dual diagnosis programs. During dual diagnosis addiction treatment, you have access to mental health professionals who can evaluate your mental health and adjust your medications.

Since addiction impacts your brain chemistry, withdrawal and detox can aggravate your mental health. This means it’s especially important to complete an inpatient or outpatient medically supervised detox program because staff can ensure that your symptoms don’t rapidly worsen during withdrawal.

Many substances can also cause detox symptoms that impact your mood. Detoxing from substances like benzodiazepines and alcohol can increase anxiety and depression. This is especially dangerous if you have an anxiety disorder or depression.

Right Step Houston

Remember, early treatment is the best thing you can do to support your recovery goals. Our programs provide you with the increased support, guidance, and understanding you need to beat addiction. Call Right Step Houston today at 1.844.768.0169 to find out more about our dual diagnosis programs and how we can help you reach your recovery goals.

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