We talk about dual diagnosis when someone is addicted to alcohol or drugs (substance abuse) and simultaneously struggling with a mental illness such as depression, anxiety symptoms, ADHD or an eating disorder. This is also called a co-occurring disorder.
What is dual diagnosis?
The term ‘dual diagnosis‘ refers to a condition in which addiction and other excessive substance use (alcohol, legal and illegal drugs and products) co-occur with at least 1 psychiatric disorder (e.g. depression, anxiety disorder, ADHD) that is not an immediate consequence of the substance abuse. Psychiatric disorders that do result from substance abuse are e.g. withdrawal symptoms and reactions to intoxication (poisoning).
Substance abuse can affect the person’s mental disorder in several ways. It can:
- trigger the onset of a psychiatric disorder;
- worsen the disorder;
- alleviate or make the disorder more bearable;
- have no effect on it at all.
With a dual diagnosis, the mental ilness will persist even if the substance abuse has stopped for some time.
The link between substance abuse and mental health problem
Although one does not always directly cause the other, substance addiction and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are intimately related. Alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of melancholy and anxiety, while consuming drugs like methamphetamine or marijuana excessively can lead to protracted psychotic responses. Also:
- Self-medication for the signs and symptoms of mental health issues is frequently done using alcohol and drugs. People frequently abuse alcohol or drugs to mask the signs of an untreated mental illness, to deal with distressing feelings, or to alter their mood momentarily. Unfortunately, using alcohol or drugs for self-medication has negative side effects and frequently makes the symptoms it was intended to treat worse over time.
- Abuse of alcohol and other drugs can raise the underlying risk for mental illnesses. It is hard to establish if substance abuse ever directly causes mental health problems because they are created by a complex combination of heredity, the environment, and other variables. However, misusing alcohol or drugs could tip you over the edge if you are already at risk for a mental health problem. For instance, some data suggests that those who overuse opiate medications have a higher chance of developing depression, and frequent cannabis use has been associated with a higher risk of developing schizophrenia.
- Abuse of alcohol and other drugs can exacerbate the signs of a mental health issue. Substance usage may significantly worsen mental illness symptoms or possibly cause the onset of new ones. Antidepressants, anxiety medications, and mood stabilisers, among others, might interact with alcohol or drug abuse, decreasing their efficacy in treating symptoms and delaying your recovery.
Characteristics of people with dual diagnosis
Researchers have found similar characteristics in people with a dual diagnosis. For example, it appears that they are more likely to start using drugs again or suffer from psychological symptoms again.
- They are more likely to be admitted, but attend therapy less faithfully. It is therefore more difficult for these people to follow therapy properly.
- It proves harder for them to hold down a job. Unemployment is therefore much more common among people with a dual diagnosis. Homeless people often have a dual diagnosis.
- People with a dual diagnosis are more likely to be aggressive, depressed and suicidal. They are more likely than average to have long-term conflicts with family or friends.
Identification of a dual diagnosis
It can be challenging to recognise a dual diagnosis. It takes time to distinguish between potential mental health disorders and potential drug or alcohol problems. Both the mental health issue and the substance being misused, whether it be alcohol, illicit substances, or prescription pharmaceuticals, affect the signs and symptoms. The symptoms of depression and marijuana misuse, for instance, could be extremely dissimilar from those of schizophrenia and alcoholism. There are, however, a few widespread indicators that you might have a co-occurring disorder:
- Do you turn to alcohol or other drugs to deal with unpleasant memories or emotions, to manage pain or the severity of your moods, to face terrifying situations, or to stay concentrated on your work?
- Do your drug use and mental health seem to be related to one another? Do you experience depression when you drink, for instance? Or drink when you’re feeling anxious or plagued by unpleasant memories?
- Has anyone in your family struggled with alcohol or drug misuse or a mental illness?
- Even when you’re sober, do you ever feel worried, depressed, or otherwise out of balance?
- Have you ever received treatment for your addiction or mental health issue? Was the failure of the drug rehab programme due to issues with your mental health or the other way around?
Treatment options for co-occurring disorders
An integrated strategy, in which the mental disease and the substance addiction issue are treated concurrently, is the best treatment for co-occurring disorders. Long-term recovery depends on receiving treatment for both illnesses from the same treatment team or provider, regardless of whether your mental health or substance abuse problem started earlier. Depending on the nature of your problems:
Medication, individual or group counselling, self-help techniques, dietary modifications, and peer support can all be used to treat mental health issues.
Detoxification, controlling withdrawal symptoms, behavioural therapy, and support groups to help you stay sober are all possible treatments for substance abuse issues.
Dual diagnosis treatment at rehab center in Marbella
Villa Paradiso Spain offers effective addiction treatment in a very private and discreet setting. At the heart of what we offer is understanding – an understanding of your needs, problems and how to help you overcome addiction, whether that be from drugs, alcohol or any other type of addiction. Each and every person is different. We are able to help you because we adapt all our expertise to your personal situation – with the pure and simple aim of achieving effective results.
A central element of our addiction treatment is absolute privacy and discretion, which is why Villa Paradiso Spain in Marbella is preferred by people who seek anonymity and a place in which to be at ease and focus on taking back control of their lives. We offer this without compromise within a beautiful, relaxed and sunny environment.