Understanding surge in dual diagnosis cases in America’s criminal justice system

Understanding surge in dual diagnosis cases in America’s criminal justice system

Inadequate access to rehabilitation centers for treatment of mental disorders and an increase in the incarceration rate of those convicted of drug felonies has led to an increase in the prevalence of co-occurring disorders in the criminal justice system. As prison cells are shared between those suffering from mental conditions and those who struggle addiction, chances are that their behavioral disorders and habits get mutually affected.

The prevalence of substance use disorders among prison inmates is higher than in general population. Prior researches have indicated that a vast majority of America’s jails are housing inmates with serious mental illnesses. While segregation of psychologically ill inmates exists in some jails, not all jails are able to afford that kind of facility due to rising social expenditure attributed to an increasing number of people getting holed up in prisons every year.

Keeping all of them at one place raises the risk of jail inmates with mental health problems resorting to drug abuse in an attempt to self-medicate. The sedative effect of some substances helps temporarily alleviate signs of mood disorders in emotionally ill people. This gives rise to a vicious cycle of substance use disorder makes them dependent on addictive drugs in the long run.

Co-occurring disorders go unnoticed in jails

Various reasons are responsible for the surge in the prevalence of co-occurring disorders. Studies have identified factors such as failure in the ability to screen and evaluate people suffering from this condition. Some of the reasons suggested by researchers in not being able to decipher the problem are: failure on the part of physicians to assess one or more of the co-occurring disorders, insufficient training of the staff to identify such disorders and separate mental health and substance abuse service systems that conduct distinct assessment processes. And inadequate management information systems make it more difficult to diagnose such disorders in the jail environment.

Getting timely treatment to get rid of co-occurring disorders

Co-occurring disorders exist, but are difficult to diagnose due to the complexity of the symptoms manifested and the seriousness of the signs. Physicians eliciting details from people experiencing emotional disasters rarely inquire about their existing addictive habits, thus, leaving no scope for mentally ill patients to gain treatment for their dependence habits too.

Similarly, patients seeking treatment in recovery centers are rarely asked if they suffer from any kind of mental disorders. While most addiction habits grow out of the need to decrease symptoms of mental health problems, very few addiction cases are able to gain the necessary treatment.

As symptoms of dual diagnosis largely go unnoticed, the result is the increased prevalence of Americans suffering from dual diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders, if left untreated, can result in a host of unwarranted problems like homelessness, imprisonment, deterioration of their medical problems, frequent attempts to commit suicide or even death at an early stage.

Scope of recovery

For those fighting dual occurrence of substance use disorders and psychological disorders, clinicians  need to recommend integrated treatment as an essential measure of the recovery process. The need to increase awareness level and to build the much-needed capacity in service systems are paramount to help in identification and treatment of co-occurring disorders.

Timely detection and initiation of recovery at an early stage can help ameliorate outcomes apart from bringing about an improvement in the quality of lives of those who are in need of these services.

If a loved one or someone you know is suffering from coexisting disorders, contact the Dual Diagnosis Helpline to understand the condition better and get assistance in finding the best dual diagnosis center. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 or chat online with one of our representatives to know about various dual diagnosis rehab centers across the U.S.