“Addiction is a mental health disorder. Whether it’s genetic, driven by social factors, trauma, diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness – it effects our brains, our emotions, our coping skills, our psyche,” writes behavioral health provider Keith McAdam on rehabs.com.
Drug addiction and mental illness are often interrelated and can erupt as two brain diseases occurring together. This coexisting condition is referred to as dual diagnosis. Though both the problems have their own symptoms, the aggravation of one problem causes the other to worsen. It means, if the treatment for mental stress goes awry, the problem of substance abuse may increase and vice versa. Thus, the co-occurrence of substance and other mental disorders is increasingly recognized as a major health issue.
What causes dual diagnosis?
Having a mental disorder significantly increases one’s risk of abusing alcohol and drugs. A person suffering from mental anxiety may take to alcohol or psychotropic drugs as an escape route. Alternatively, a person with a severe drinking or substance abuse problem may suffer from mental agony. It means that problematic pattern of drug use leads to significant impairments in the brain cells, causing symptoms such as lack of control over drug use, inability to stop addiction, frequent cravings and inability to fulfill responsibilities. Conclusions derived from treatment of patients with both disorders reveal that anxiety, in most cases, is likely to be the consequence rather than the cause behind heavy drinking or drug abuse.
Genetics also impacts a person’s decision-making and risk-taking behaviors, which may give rise to drug abuse and other mental illnesses.
Dealing with dual diagnosis
Since there is a strong relationship between substance abuse and mental illness, the treatment must address both conditions in order to be effective. Mental health professionals realized that recovery rates of patients with coexisting conditions were mostly lower than average, with poor treatment outcomes. An integrated treatment plan is best suited for this illness, wherein equal importance is given to the treatment of both psychiatric disorder and addictive behavior.
Various treatment centers provide fully comprehensive, integrated treatment plans for patients trying to overcome substance abuse and mental disorder. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, dual diagnosis treatment centers treat those struggling with both mental disorder and substance abuse.
While looking for treatment centers, patients must enroll themselves with the ones that provide integrated treatment for dual diagnosis cases. The kind of treatment offered at the dual diagnosis centers mostly depends on whether the person suffered from mental illness or abuse first.
According to a report by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.7 million American adults suffered from co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorder. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) also states the following facts:
- Roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse
- About 37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness
- Of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29 percent abuse either alcohol or drugs
Way to recovery
At the treatment centers, doctors study both symptoms and treatment options, depending on the intensity of the mental illness and the patient’s dependence on substance. The duration of the treatment varies in most cases as no two treatment options are alike. Treatment options include detoxification, inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation, medications, psychotherapy and intervention with the help of various support groups. In some cases, medical practitioners resort to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to unlock the ineffective and complex patterns of thinking in patients suffering from this coexisting condition.
If you or someone in your family is struggling with this dual condition and need professional help, get in touch with the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline. Call at 855-980-1736 any time to speak with a representative and get referred to a rehabilitation or recovery center in your area.