Dual diagnosis is the term in the addiction treatment realm used to describe the phenomenon of addiction pairing with mental health conditions. Many may not know, but dual diagnosis is actually quite prevalent in individuals who seek help for addiction. In fact, according to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), around 7.9 million individuals who struggle with addiction also struggle with some type of mental health condition. For these individuals, it’s imperative to identify mental health conditions during treatment. This way, they can learn to manage the symptoms of their mental health conditions so they no longer contribute to their addiction. And they can establish a life of health and wellness without the use of drugs or alcohol.
Depressive disorders are mental health conditions which affect an individual’s ability to manage mood. While there are many different types of depressive disorders, they’re all characterized by prolonged and unmanageable feelings of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness. Furthermore, these feelings debilitate a person’s ability to perform daily tasks. And can lead to additional symptoms like suicidal thoughts and actions, extreme weight fluctuations, and impaired self-image.
In most cases, individuals develop addiction by attempting to self-medicate symptoms of depression. Whether they don’t like their mental health medications or they have never been diagnosed, they feel that using an addictive substance is the better outlet. However, with long term use, addiction inevitably surfaces.
Anxiety disorders are diagnosed to individuals who have trouble managing stress and anxiety. While every person experiences some level of anxiety, those diagnosed with anxiety disorders struggle with debilitating levels of anxiety daily. And can even experience panic attacks, which are untreatable bouts of extreme anxiety which can be both painful and frightening.
To attempt to manage or decrease anxious symptoms, many individuals may utilize drugs and alcohol. However, addictive substances often make symptoms of anxiety disorders even worse. And, can lead to a ceaseless cycle of addictive behaviors unless individuals get help.
Another commonly diagnosed mental health disorder in addiction treatment patients is PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. This is due to experiencing trauma, whether it’s a natural disaster, the loss of a loved one, being a victim of a crime, or otherwise. Obviously, dealing with trauma is challenging. But, many people may not know that they’re dealing with PTSD, may not want to seek help for PTSD, or may not find help with traditional medications for PTSD. So, often, people may try to self-medicate the symptoms of experiencing trauma with drugs and alcohol. And, slip into the cycle of addiction.
Personality disorders are mental health conditions that are characterized by unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors. These behaviors and thought patterns are debilitating, so they can lead to issues at home, school, work, and even in relationships. Because there are a number of personality disorders, each one has different symptoms. Some of the types of personality disorders include:
When people aren’t diagnosed with personality disorders or neglect getting proper treatment, they may turn to drugs or alcohol to help. However, like other mental health disorders, treating with alcohol and drugs doesn’t always work. And, can lead to lasting addiction.
If you think that you or a loved one is struggling with both mental health disorders and addiction, Diablo Valley Drug and Alcohol Services is here to help. We offer comprehensive support for dual diagnosis individuals so they may break free from the cycle of addiction and find alternative ways to manage the symptoms of their mental health conditions. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today!