When a patient receives a dual diagnosis, it means he or she has both a mental health disorder and a drug and/or alcohol addiction at the same time. The patient may have multiple mental health disorders or the patient may have multiple substance addictions.

Understanding Dual Diagnosis

For example, an alcoholic with depression, anxiety and antisocial disorder suffers a dual diagnosis. The patient may only suffer from one of each type of disorder, for example a paranoid schizophrenic with a cocaine addiction also suffers a dual diagnosis. Because of the wide range of possibility within dual diagnosis, and because sometimes one disorder can worsen another, dual diagnosis should be taken very seriously. Here we discuss dual diagnosis itself, the scale of the problem, and some options for combatting dual diagnosis.

The Chicken or the Egg?

The qualifications for dual diagnosis are broad. Obviously a depressed alcoholic is a far cry in many ways from a schizophrenic heroin addict. However, both are dual diagnoses. Determining which disorder came first, and whether or not it caused another, can be a tricky situation. Either substance abuse or mental illness can develop first. Someone with a mental health disorder may abuse drugs and/or alcohol as a self-medication for the initial mental problem. Drug and/or alcohol abuse only makes the symptoms of mental health disorders worse.

Although in most dual diagnosis cases it may be impossible to accurately determine which of the diagnoses came first, one thing is for sure: long-term substance abuse causes mental health issues. It is common knowledge that drug and/or alcohol abuse can cause depression, anxiety, paranoia, and even memory loss. These are just a few non-physical examples.

Is Dual Diagnosis Common?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports 37% of alcoholics and 53% of drug addicts to have a mental disorder as well. This means well over a third of substance abusers qualify for a dual diagnosis. The groups at highest risk of developing a dual diagnosis are those of lower economic status, military veterans, and those predisposed to mental illness.

Treating a Dual Diagnosis

In order to properly treat a patient with dual diagnosis, each disorder must be accurately diagnosed and treated separately. If you feel like you may have a dual diagnosis, there is help available. Contact Arrow Passage Recovery today to learn about your options.