Dual diagnosis emerged as a concept over two decades ago. Also referred to as co-occurring disorders, it points to the copresence of both mental disorders and substance addiction. Some of the most prevalent coexisting disorders include heroin addiction and bipolar disorder, alcoholism and depression, etc.
Other common combinations of co-occurring disorders include major depression with cocaine addiction, alcoholism and poly-drug addiction with schizophrenia or panic disorder, and borderline personality disorder with episodic poly-drug abuse. Therefore, it is essential to treat both the disorders in parallel to ensure holistic recovery.
Patients with co-occurring disorders will have one or more disorders related to alcohol and/or drug use along with one or more mental disorders. A patient can be diagnosed with co-occurring disorders when at least one disorder of each type can be proven independently of the other. However, the severity, chronicity and degree of impairment in functioning may vary.
Compared to the patients suffering from either a mental disorder or SUD, those with co-occurring disorders usually require longer treatment and witness slower progress in treatment. With the advancement in the field of medicine, there has been a sea change in the field of dual diagnosis treatment.
According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), nearly 8.2 million adults in the United States are afflicted with co-occurring disorders in the past year, which representing 3.4 percent of the adult population. With the growing prevalence of dual diagnosis, it has become essential to spread awareness about this disorder to ensure effective medical or psychotherapeutic treatment to the patients.
Facts that make life easier for dual diagnosis patients
People grappling with dual diagnosis are prone to additional problems, such as relapse, huge financial burden, social isolation, etc., which can worsen their overall condition. Due to the overlapping of symptoms, it is often quite difficult to diagnose the coexisting disorders. In order to spread awareness, a few ‘must know’ facts on dual diagnosis treatment are mentioned below:
- Dual diagnosis is present in nearly 50 percent of drug or alcohol addiction cases as some studies indicate. It is therefore not as rare as generally believed.
- The number of possible combinations in the case of dual diagnosis is endless as a patient with the combination of any mental illness (depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, etc.) and addiction to substances (e.g. alcohol, drugs, etc.) can be classified as suffering from a co-occurring disorder.
- Dual diagnosis is a challenging condition for both the sufferer and the practitioner as identifying the root cause poses a major problem. Oftentimes, it is difficult to detect whether a patient’s mental illness is responsible for causing substance addiction or whether it developed independently of the other.
- People suffering from dual diagnosis are high-risk patients, as the presence of multiple disorders tends to complicate their condition further. This can sometimes lead to violent behaviour and high suicidal tendencies among patients.
- Each disorder tends to feed off the other. Those with mental illness are more susceptible to addiction and vice versa. As a result, even casual alcohol or drug use could escalate quickly to addictive behaviors.
- Since dual diagnosis treatment is a complicated procedure, there are not many drug rehab facilities equipped to handle such patients. Moreover, it requires intervention of experts to treat both the conditions simultaneously.
- Integrated treatment has been a successful method where patients get treatment for both the conditions under one roof by a team of professionals.
- The dual diagnosis treatment requires time and patience to deal with the coexisting conditions. There are no quick fixes as treatment sometimes get extended by months and years.
- Treatment cannot be hurried for the sake of speed. It must move at the pace that is most comfortable for the patient.
Recovery road map
Both mental disorders and substance addiction occur due to a number of biological and environmental factors. Given the various combinations of co-occurring disorders, the need of the hour is to determine a customized treatment plan based on each patient’s requirements. Since there is no single intervention or treatment plan for people with dual diagnosis, it becomes essential to consult an expert immediately.
If you or someone you know has been struggling with dual diagnosis, contact the Dual Diagnosis Helpline to find the best dual diagnosis rehab centers in the U.S. Call our 24/7 helpline number (855) 981-6047 or chat online to know about the various dual diagnosis facilities in your vicinity.