Dual diagnosis describes the co-existence of a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. A wide array of dual diagnosis conditions are possible, with common interactions including depression and opioid abuse, panic disorder and benzodiazepine dependence, and psychosis and methamphetamine abuse. Cases can be difficult to diagnose and treat effectively, with different dual diagnosis treatment patterns used depending on the nature of the primary disorder and extent of addiction.
Dual diagnosis treatment often takes place in specialized drug treatment centers as a combination of detox, rehabilitation therapy, and relapse prevention. For more dual diagnosis treatment options, contact Drug Treatment Tallahassee at (850) 254-8944.
Dual diagnosis is also known as co-occurring disorders, with this term used to describe a wide range of causal and bi-directional relationships. Co-occurring disorders normally occur with depression disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and personality disorders, with other psychiatric conditions also linked to substance abuse in certain cases. Before treating someone with a dual diagnosis, doctors and clinicians will attempt to differentiate between pre-existing mental health problems from those induced by the abuse of psychoactive substances.
Sometimes the mental illness comes first, with people using drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication. Sometimes the addiction comes first, with mental issues developing directly from substance abuse. In many cases, medical staff are unable to make a clear diagnosis, with neither condition easily identified as the primary disorder.
Bi-directional relationships are common, with both conditions affecting the other in complex and often chaotic ways. Regardless of the initial analysis, people living with co-occurring disorders often need to receive treatment for both conditions, either sequentially or in an integrated fashion.
In the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), alcoholism and other substance use disorders are defined as psychiatric disorders. People living with certain mental health disorders are more likely to develop drinking problems, with heavy drinkers also more likely to develop mental illness. This is referred to as co-morbidity.
Alcoholics are two to three times more likely to have an anxiety disorder than non-drinkers, with both causal and bi-directional relationships possible. While some people drink alcohol to reduce the effects of an anxiety disorder, this will only provide temporary relief. In most cases, ongoing drinking will only add to existing problems, with further anxiety symptoms likely unless alcohol intake is stopped.
People with a history of alcohol dependence are also four times more likely to develop a major depressive condition than those without a history of alcohol dependence. Alcohol is classified as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, along with opioids, benzodiazepines and barbiturates.
The extended use of CNS depressants leads to mental depression in many cases, with some people caught in a vicious cycle of mental illness and self-medication. Medical detoxification and psychotherapy programs are often required to break the bonds of addiction and mental despair, with some alcoholism treatment centers and mental health clinics specializing in dual diagnosis cases.
A range of dual diagnosis treatment options are available, either through a single drug treatment facility or with the help of mental health services. A primary treatment plan will often be initiated if a primary disorder can easily be identified, with symptoms of the secondary condition sometimes alleviated as a result or a single treatment plan. For example, methamphetamine induced psychosis will generally dissipate as a direct result of methamphetamine discontinuation.
Sequential treatment is also available, with the secondary disorder treated once the primary disorder has been stabilized. Parallel treatment is another option, with both disorders treated at the same time. Integrated treatment may also be available from some treatment facilities, with no distinction made between conditions and a single treatment plan realized.