It is quite normal for teenagers suffering from a mental illness like depression, anxiety disorder or bipolar disorder to resort to substances to alleviate pain and seek comfort. Generally, whenever a youngster encounters depressive symptoms, poor concentration, intimidation, isolation, he or she may turn to alcohol or drugs to deal with the miseries. Self-medication becomes their only solace, amidst prejudices and stigma attached to psychiatric disorders.
Additionally, the increased pressure from parents to perform well in academics and sports can swerve a teenager towards the wrong side of the law. As a result, the rate of coexistence of mental health related issues and substance abuse is incredibly high among adolescents. The cases of dual diagnosis or coexisting disorders have spiked remarkably due to the increased prevalence of self-medication, using stimulants during exams and experimentation with drugs for adventure.
One can determine the extent of the problem by the fact that 60 percent to 75 percent of the teens abusing substances like drugs and alcohol also suffer from a mental disorder. Therefore, it is essential for parents and caregivers to keep a tab on their adolescent children’s habits and condition to dissuade the development of any of substance use disorder (SUD) or prevent mental disorders.
Some of the changes commonly witnessed during the dual diagnosis phase are highlighted below:
- Mental disorders are difficult to diagnose. Oftentimes, people, who are unaware of their condition, tend to develop the habit of self-medicating on certain drugs.
- Patients diagnosed with a disorder have to often depend on medications that cause a number of ominous side effects. In order to to alleviate those effects, they start abusing drugs.
- Several drugs like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or ecstasy can lead to serious alteration in the brain after a period of abuse. These disruptions in the brain can lead to issues like anxiety disorders, depression or paranoia, which can be mitigated by abusing other drugs.
- People running a high risk of developing mental illnesses because of genes, environmental factors, major traumatic experiences, etc., can fall prey to drugs.
- The heavy drug abuse during developmental years can affect cognitive and social development in adolescence, leading to mental illnesses.
Early occurrence increases risk of comorbidity
As per a report, people with the alcohol use disorder (AUD) are more prone to experiencing the effect of an anxiety disorder and major depression. In fact, there are several pieces of evidence to indicate early drug use as a significant risk factor for developing substance abuse and mental issues. Therefore, it is essential to conduct thorough psychiatric evaluation of people with the problem of alcoholism to avoid worsening of the condition.
Despite the fact that mental distress may be the reason for the development of substance abuse and eventually an addiction, it is often difficult to figure out which came first. In fact, overlapping genetic vulnerabilities play a major role in developing coexisting disorders among people. Furthermore, a mental issue in childhood or adolescence can increase the vulnerability to substance abuse in later life.
For instance, while treating children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), effective treatment often involves stimulants that run the potential risk of abuse. It has also been observed that people suffering from the specific psychological disorders tend to have a connection with a particular substance, such as alcohol is often associated with depression, opioids with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), marijuana with schizophrenia and so on.
Treatment for dual diagnosis
Addiction and a mental illness can pose serious obstructions in treatment. Hence, it is necessary to address the addiction and mental illness problem, as well as their contributing underlying issues. It is important to treat addiction and mental illnesses simultaneously. Dual diagnosis can be treated using holistic interventions, depending on the symptoms and severity of the disorder. The treatment involves alleviating both the mental illness and SUD.
If you are looking for dual diagnosis treatment, you can visit the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline to know more about the various treatment options. Additionally, you can call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1736 to get information about the state-of-the-art rehabs in California or join our mental health executive over an online chat session to know about the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in California.