Dual diagnosis is the co-occurrence of a mental illness and substance addiction. There are two facets to this diagnosis: the underlying mental illness could influence drug abuse or drug addiction could influence the development of a mental health condition. It's difficult to figure out which came first: the substance addiction or brain disease; however, in order to successfully overcome addiction, the addict must be treated for both diseases.
Research on this topic has been inconsistent at best. Some researchers speculate that certain substances like alcohol and marijuana exacerbate pre-existing mental illness and could make symptoms worse. For instance, alcoholics who are mildly depressed could worsen their depression by continuing to abuse alcohol. On the other hand, a person suffering from depression could turn to alcohol to help alleviate the symptoms of his or her mental condition.
Drug and/or alcohol abuse and addiction could stem from the want to self-medicate. Substance abuse helps the person cope with feelings of anxiety, stress, social inhibition and despair. It may be a way to temporarily relieve these feelings of inadequacy but if the person continues with substance addiction, they will end up doing more harm to themselves. The corresponding connection between drug abuse and mental illness is crucial. Treating a patient with dual diagnosis requires the knowledge of physicians, psychiatrists, addiction medicine specialists, and substance abuse technicians. It's of the upmost importance that the patient understands how mental illness influences his or her substance abuse.
Medication for mood, anxiety, psychotic, etc. disorders is appropriate. However, medication alone doesn't address the root cause of drug and/or alcohol addiction. Medication should be a complement to other forms of treatment, such as behavioral therapy. Therapy, either one-on-one or in a group, allows the addict to self-reflect and identify the underlying reasons for substance addiction. Other treatment modalities help the addict develop coping skills and anger management techniques. The right combination of medication and therapeutic treatment is what helps addicts overcome their addiction. If you or loved one has dual diagnosis, it can come as a shock. On the other hand, it can explain why substance abuse occurs in the first place. Restoring your mental health makes the road to sobriety and recovery possible. Find rehab centers and various facilities for your specific needs at (502) 653-3503.