A dual diagnosis (or co-occurring condition) refers to a case where an individual has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder as well as a substance addiction. Dual diagnosis may not be a well-known condition, but it’s a relatively common occurrence: According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 45 percent of adults in the United States with a substance addiction also have symptoms of a psychiatric condition.
Treatment for dual diagnosis requires an integrated approach that addresses both the mental health disorder and the substance addiction at the same time. If you are searching for a rehabilitation that will treat co-occurring conditions, call Drug Treatment Centers Burlington VT at (802) 881-0115.
Although any mental health disorder and any substance addiction may be present at the same time in a patient, certain pairings are more prevalent. Depression is the most common mental illness to occur alongside a substance addiction; in fact, research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology indicates that one in three people who abuse a substance also suffer from depression.
Individuals with substance addictions also have a higher incidence of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). A study in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders reveals that over 25 percent of people being treated for OCD also show signs of substance abuse.
A complex relationship exists between addiction and mental illness. Although many studies have attempted to understand this relationship, the results are unclear. In some individuals, mental illness occurs first, while other people may first suffer from a substance addiction.
A few neurotransmitters in the brain can play a role in both addiction and mental illness. Dopamine is one of these chemicals, and it’s responsible for the rush of good feelings that accompanies drug use.
Heroin and many other drugs are converted to dopamine by the body, which triggers a sense of euphoria for the user. Over time, continued substance abuse can make it difficult for the body to produce dopamine on its own; in these cases, depression or other mental health disorders may occur.
A study by the National Institute on Drug Use (NIDA) indicates that people with an inherited tendency towards mental illness are particularly susceptible to this long-term effect. The chemical changes brought on by drug abuse can activate an underlying condition.
Research also confirms that people who suffer from a mental health disorder often abuse substances to mask their painful symptoms. According to a study discussed in the Journal of Affective Disorders, nearly 25 percent of people with a mood disorder used an addictive substance to lessen their symptoms. The individuals in the study were aware of their mental health diagnosis, and they turned to substance abuse as a type of self-medication.
A standard addiction treatment program won’t be effective in a case of dual diagnosis. It’s important to take an integrated approach to treatment, where both the substance addiction and the psychiatric disorder are addressed at the same time.
Most treatment plans for individuals with co-occurring disorders include some form of psychotherapy, behavioral therapy and medication. Comprehensive treatment that addresses both disorders has been proven to result in lower relapse rates and longer periods of sobriety.
After leaving the rehab center, it can be difficult to face the challenges of recovery; aftercare services can help a recovering individual stay on track and avoid a relapse. Relapse prevention is the focus of most aftercare resources, and participants learn how to manage the triggers and temptations that could lead them to use again.
Some of the most common aftercare resources include 12 step programs and support groups. At these meetings, participants can benefit from the guidance and support of other members.
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