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What Does It Mean to Have a Dual Diagnosis?

Dual Diagnosis

Do you know what it means to have a dual diagnosis of addiction and mental health issues? Find out everything you need to know about these comorbidities.

Have you recently been diagnosed with a substance abuse problem and a mental disorder? 

Being told you have a co-occurring disorder is confusing and scary. But the first thing you should remember is that you are far from alone in this. 

Mental health issues and substance abuse often go hand in hand. In fact, studies show that at least 7.9 million Americans have been diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder.

Treating mental illness or addiction is hard enough on its own. Managing both requires a full understanding of the illnesses plus receiving specialized treatment. 

Do you know what it means to have a dual diagnosis of addiction and mental health issues? Find out everything you need to know about these comorbidities.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders means that a person is dealing with both substance abuse and mental illness. There are all sorts of combinations of addictions and mental disorders.

The mental illness can include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and more. Addictions could be to alcohol, prescription drugs, and/or street drugs. 

It can be difficult to figure out which disorder came first. For some, they start using because they’re trying to self medicate the pain of their mental illness. In other people, substance abuse has caused or worsened the mental disorder.

Either way, it’s important to understand how the diagnoses affect each other instead of addressing them individually.

How the Two Diagnoses Affect Each Other

How the diagnoses play off of one another depends on the combination of disorders you have.

For example, if you have a mental disorder that causes psychosis, doing drugs likely worsens your symptoms. If you’re prescribed medication to treat it, the drugs or alcohol usage probably negatively interact with your pills. 

There are all kinds of possibilities for how two diagnoses can affect each other. Treating these issues together is incredibly nuanced. That’s why it’s so crucial to find the right doctors and rehab facilities for you.

Getting the Right Treatment

It’s easy to assume that any rehab center would be experienced in treating people with both addictions and mental illnesses. They should be, considering dual diagnoses are so common. 

Unfortunately, many rehabs only know how to treat the addiction and not the whole person. Before choosing a doctor or center, be sure that they are equipped to treat people with dual diagnoses. 

Inspire Malibu is a treatment center that has specialized treatment programs for people with co-occurring disorders. If you’re interested in learning about their program, you can read more here

Dual Diagnosis: The Takeaway

Receiving a dual diagnosis might feel overwhelming. But now that you what’s going on, you and your doctor can put together a much more effective treatment plan. With commitment and support, you can now start on the road to recovery.

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