This is What You Need to Know About Dual Diagnosis

All the lonely people, where do they all come from? In a world full of differing persons, our melting pot runneth over. We ha

Jun 9

All the lonely people, where do they all come from? In a world full of differing persons, our melting pot runneth over. We have diverse genders, races, and ethnicities. There’s unlike heights, weights, and sexualities. Don’t forget the diverse emotions, ambitions, and perceptions that accompany them all. Aye aye aye- one fish two fish, red fish blue fish.

All the combating personalities exist in their own personalized way, yet some people face handicaps that others may not understand. Disease and misfortune undesirably ridicules our world and we best be ready for the unpredictable. Rest assured that no addict or alcoholic wakes up with the aspiring dream to become a homeless junkie or a liver spotted loner, it just happens. One day the wool gets pulled over their eyes and the obsession of chemical dependency blinds their reality. Maybe that sounds familiar? Well, the same happens with mental disorders and the dual diagnosis that come from the unexpected.

Recognizing dual diagnosis and all special cards that lie in one’s hand can benefit the player more they may realize. Educating yourself on all of you or your loved one’s extremities will make the future so much easier to understand. Keep in mind fair is not everybody having the same thing, but everybody having what they need to get by.

Challenged to a Duel

Dual diagnosis, also referred to as “co-existing disorder,” involves both a substance addiction and a mental health disorder. Dual is not to be mistaken for a duel, although they almost seem interchangeable in this situation. When challenged to a duel two people engage in armed combat with each other, where as dual is an adjective meaning having two parts. The DSM listed suggestion here is that we are in the middle of this dual of duels with addiction on one side and mental disorders on the other both fighting for the sanity of their victim.

The dual diagnosis problem is a prevalent one in the U.S. according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). In due to dual diagnosis being a relatively common occurrence, it is important to understand the complexities of diagnosing and treating a dual diagnosis to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient.

NAMI estimates that about one-third of all individuals suffering from a mental disorder also struggle with substance abuse. That percentage actually goes up for people battling the most severe types of mental illness. In addition, around half of all drug abusers and one-third of all alcohol abusers also have some type of mental illness. Men are more likely to have a dual diagnosis than women, particularly those in a lower socioeconomic status or those that have served in the military.

In this Case, Two Isn’t Better than One

While any mental disorder that accompanies substance abuse is considered a dual diagnosis, some illnesses are more common than others in this situation. Some of the more frequently seen mental disorders involved in any such prognosis can include:

  • Mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
  • Anxiety disorders (panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • Personality disorders (antisocial, borderline, narcissistic)

There is no set pattern when it comes to a dual diagnosis. Some patients experience the mental disorder first and begin using drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication to mask the symptoms. Others begin with the substance abuse, which can gradually lead to a mental disorder.

As far as treating a dual diagnosis goes, it is not important to distinguish which illness came first. It is far more relevant to get an accurate diagnosis of the mental disorder so that treatment can be customized to the specific needs of the patient. It’s important to know if the alcoholic in question needs to be medicated or requires less.

depressed man sitting on train tracks

Dual Diagnosis: The Beast with Two Heads

Integrated intervention is the most effective way to approach and treat a dual diagnosis. This involves treating both the mental disorder and addiction simultaneously. If one is treated without the other, the chances of a full recovery or long-term sobriety are slim. With addiction usually being a more immediate issue, treatment often begins with the detoxification process to wean the patient off the substance.

Detoxification is a process that can take days to weeks for some whilst under the supervision of medical and psychiatric personnel. These physicians will monitor the radical changes in behavior that occur as the drugs/alcohol leave the vessel. This is typically more effective on an inpatient basis, where the patient’s environment can be carefully controlled to ensure withdrawal is safe and successful.

Once detoxification is completed, treatment for the dual diagnosis can effectively begin. In these situations, patients often find inpatient care works best at the beginning of the process. However, outpatient treatment programs can also be effective if they address both concerns and provide sufficient support throughout to encourage adherence to the recovery process.

Accepting the Dual Deal

Dual Diagnosis, of course, is extra weight to manage when shifting into the world of recovery, but maintenance of such will be the difference between rational sanity and insane irrationality. It can naturally make some things seem overwhelming but believe that it isn’t a death sentence. Those dealing with comorbidity of any sort will explain that it is a challenge gladly accepted with a sober mindset.

Once on the recovery side of things, dual diagnosis isn’t as menacing. The reality of it also kicks in that there is not a choice in the matter- just like addiction. A disease is a disease is a disease. Period. It goes back to being able to distinguish with life that it’s not so much about what happens to you but it’s the way you react to “it”. We have the power to control our destiny.   

Don’t be Gunned Down by Illness

Treating dual diagnosis is a complex process that requires a full team of professionals equipped to address any and all issues that might arise. If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on sobriety and need detoxification, please call 1-866-663-3030 or visit Our teams of specialists are waiting by to help figure out what options are best for sending your life is a comfortable direction that you can proudly stand behind.  

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