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What is Dual Diagnosis?

Mental health disorders, which can impact your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, can increase your chances of developing an addiction. Especially if you don’t receive treatment for your symptoms. That means that having a dual diagnosis is possible and can complicate your recovery process. But what is dual diagnosis?

Substance abuse disorders, addictions, and alcoholism impact more than 20 million Americans ages 12 and older each year. Addiction, which is a progressive, deadly, and chronic disease, can destroy your relationships, finances, and health. Because addiction is incurable, treatment is necessary in order to find recovery and successfully avoid relapsing. While there is no known cause of addiction, meaning that anyone can develop a substance abuse disorder in their lifetime, certain factors can place you at a higher risk.

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

So, what is dual diagnosis? It is when you have both a substance abuse disorder and a mental health disorder. You can have both conditions at the same time or develop them at different times. It doesn’t matter what substance you develop an addiction to or what mental health disorder you have, you simply have to meet the diagnostic criteria for both to have a dual diagnosis.

Some of the most common mental health disorders that occur in dual diagnosis patients include:

  • Depression and Major Depression Disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Mood disorder
  • Hyperactivity disorders
  • Eating disorders

Now that you better understand what is dual diagnosis, it’s important to know that co-occurring disorders are common among those struggling with a substance abuse disorder. Each year, 8.5 million American adults battle both an addiction and a mental health disorder.

Having a dual diagnosis can make recovery more difficult, as well as make addiction more destructive. Untreated mental health disorders can create symptoms like anxiety, depression, and mania. These symptoms can make you more prone to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. But when you have a mental health disorder, drugs and alcohol aggravate your symptoms, even if they provide temporary relief.

How is It Treated?

If you are wondering what is dual diagnosis and how is it treated, the short answer is that most substance abuse treatment centers offer specialized co-occurring disorder programs. A dual diagnosis program ensures that you receive treatment for both your mental health and substance abuse disorder at the same time. Having access to a psychiatrist during dual diagnosis treatment is a major benefit to your recovery because your treatment team can make sure that your medications are adjusted properly.

Many substances, like opiates and alcohol, lead to physical dependence which causes withdrawal symptoms when you stop using. Detox can cause mood changes, which are especially intense if you have a mental health condition. A dual diagnosis program can also help you better understand how your mental health and substance abuse is related.

Learning how to manage your symptoms is an important way to manage triggers and cravings during recovery. Evidence-based treatments, like individual counseling and medication management, can improve your ability to effectively manage your mental health.

Treatment also prepares you for potential risks to your sobriety following discharge. Since relapsing is always a risk because addiction is a chronic condition, developing healthy coping mechanisms is essential to combating cravings, as cravings can continue for years after your last use.

Finding the Best Dual Diagnosis Program Today

If you are wondering what is dual diagnosis, you likely are struggling with both substance abuse and mental health disorder symptoms. Early treatment is the best way to improve your recovery chances and reduce your risk of relapsing. To learn more about our dual diagnosis program and your treatment options, contact us today at 1.844.675.1628.

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