A dual diagnosis is one where an individual has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and has also been diagnosed with a drug or alcohol addiction. The diagnoses can be made at the same time, or they can be made on different occasions. The term "dual diagnosis" is commonly used to refer to the status of having coexisting conditions and to the patients who have them.
Dual diagnosis treatment is now offered to drug and alcohol addicted patients. For more information, contact Chesapeake Drug Treatment Centers at (757) 447-9507.
It can often take a long time before people with substance addictions find out that they have a mental health condition as well. This is particularly true when patients have addictions to alcohol or prescription drugs, since the use and abuse of both of these is endemic.
People may visit their health provider because they are having difficulty sleeping normally, or perhaps they feel perpetually anxious. The provider may prescribe drugs to treat these conditions. However, if the root cause of these symptoms is a mental disorder, then the underlying condition remains untreated.
The drugs prescribed by health providers may have a positive effect initially, but this will often wear off quite quickly. A patient may tell the doctor that he or she needs a higher dosage, or a more frequent intake. He or she may resort to ruses to get more of the drug when the doctor starts to question the usage.
This type of scenario is not uncommon, and when it persists for a long time, a percentage of such patients will develop addiction to the prescribed drugs. Another difficulty in diagnosing coexistent mental disorders in substance abusers is that the symptoms of substance abuse may mask those of the mental health problem. Amphetamine use can sometimes be confused with OCD or similar mental disorders, and the mental disorders may go undiagnosed.
Less commonly, mental health disorders can mask problems with drugs or alcohol. For example, symptoms exhibited by some schizophrenics are similar to those exhibited by people who abuse amphetamines. A diagnosis of schizophrenia might be made when the problem is drug abuse. This rarely happens because diagnoses of mental health disorder are normally made by psychiatrists or other mental health specialists.
Because there is no general agreement on what type of patient should be included in dual diagnosis statistics, there is no accurate data on how widespread the condition is. According to NIDA, 5.2% of the US adult population has alcohol use disorders (this includes those who abuse alcohol and those who are addicted to it). The figure for prescription drug abuse and addiction is similar.
When these figures are combined with the fact that 5.66% Americans were treated for serious mental health conditions in the last 12 months, it becomes clear that many people struggle with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse problems.
Coexistent mental disorders and substance addictions are treatable, but the presence of two conditions makes the process a little more complicated. Quite often, the drug to which the patient is addicted was initially prescribed to the patient to treat his or her mental disorder.
For example, patients with PTSD or OCD are often prescribed opioid drugs. If they become addicted, medics have to find alternative drugs to continue treating the PTSD or OCD. This means that the treatment cannot revolve around taking the patient off the addictive drug. Patients will need a psychopharmacological evaluation to determine the best course of treatment.
The best dual diagnosis treatments combine behavioral therapies with traditional medical detox for substance dependence. Programs will vary based on the health, substance abuse severity, and health history of every patient. It is important to seek facilities that have specialized programs for co-occurring conditions.