Dual Diagnosis & Co-Occurring Disorders | Overview, Risk Factors, Signs & Treatment
During the past decade, a lot of attention was spent studying and exploring the concept of “dual disorders,” or co-occurring disorders. Having co-occurring disorders means having addictive disorders in conjunction with other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, or other mental illnesses and conditions. Because one disorder can mask symptoms of the other, it is difficult to determine which came first and to diagnose. However, both disorders seriously affect the ability of a person to function effectively and responsibly in daily life.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2019, 9.5 million Americans of 18 – 25 ages were diagnosed with at least one co-occurring disorder alongside a substance use disorder. Unfortunately, among this group, only 7.8% received treatment for both a substance use disorder and mental health disorders simultaneously.
The scientists prove a strong link between substance use disorder and other mental health disorders. Both conditions often overlap. These may include genetics and environmental factors, such as exposure to trauma, making a person more likely to develop these issues. Mental illness can lead to substance abuse as a way of coping with symptoms. This concept is often called “self-medicating”. However, that label may be misleading. While substance use can mask symptoms, it may also at the same time exacerbate symptoms in both the short and long terms. Substance use can cause changes in brain areas disrupted by mental health disorders, increasing the developing signs of a mental disease that affects that brain. The brain areas affected by substance use seem to correlate with areas associated with impulse control, mood, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia.
The symptoms of dual disorders include those often found with a drug or alcohol use disorder. And also those indicative of a specific mental health disorder.
- Strange, risky behavior, exaggerated expressions of sadness, fear, worry, or anger, bouncing between highs and lows
- Abrupt personality changes, inability to concentrate and to function in daily life, changes in sex drive, eating and/or sleep problems
- Socially isolated from the family, friends, and favorite activities
- Unable to control drug or alcohol use, craving substance
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if a substance is not used, unexplained physical pain
- Financial/ legal problems.
- Delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, or talk of suicide.
People with several of these symptoms need help from qualified health professionals. Although treatment of dual diagnosis makes treatment more complex, even in difficult situations, recovery is possible with the right treatment program.
Dual disorders treatment can be provided at all levels of care, including
- Detox, which consists of 24/7 medical care. Staff is on-site 24/7, and physicians may prescribe medications as needed to ensure safety as one detox from drugs.
- Inpatient Care/ Residential Treatment, which tends to involve patients residing at an addiction facility 24/7 for the duration of treatment. Medical and mental health staff are present at all times to provide support, medication, and more while patients learn to manage their co-occurring disorders.
- Outpatient Care provides patients the opportunity to receive similar services as they did in inpatient care, but less intensive. This level of care allows patients the freedom to attend school or work. It also allows patients to participate in regular activities at home while still receiving care for co-occurring disorders.
Hathaway Recovery offers one of the best long-term treatments for those with dual diagnoses. Our health professionals understand the importance of treating both mental issues and addiction. We ensure that each patient receives the utmost quality of care tailored to meet their unique, individual needs.