An alcohol or drug addiction is often not a simple disease in its own right. Often people who suffer from drug abuse are connected to a deeper psychological issue or emotional condition that has started or worsened the addiction, which results in a dual diagnosis.
Find out what does dual diagnosis mean for people who suffer from it below.
What is a Dual Diagnosis?
A dual diagnosis definition is simple – it means that a person is suffering from two combined issues: mental health and substance abuse. The condition is also known as a co-occurring disorder or dual disorder. Dual diagnosis means that a person is experiencing both a substance addiction as well as a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression.
People who experience a dual diagnosis often face a wide range of psychosocial problems as a result of the condition. There may be two or more existing issues that somebody experiences alongside alcohol or drug addiction and psychiatric or emotional diseases. To treat a co-occurring disorder, dual diagnosis treatment should begin as quickly as possible to decrease the potential negative impacts on health and well-being.
Both diseases can affect an individual physically, psychologically, socially and spiritually and often cause addiction to become more severe as a result. When both diagnoses exist, it can make an accurate diagnosis and successful treatment more difficult. A professional evaluation is important to secure the very best treatment for mental health and addiction, and dual diagnosis treatment is known to be the best form of recovery programme for this condition.
Many mental health disorders may be masked by addiction, and some of the most common issues associated with dual-diagnosis cases are:
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
Signs of Dual Diagnosis
The signs of dual diagnosis will vary from person to person. However, there are some telltale signs that must be addressed as soon as possible. The earlier you are diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome will be. Here are some of the biggest signs of dual diagnosis in a person:
- Family problems or problems in intimate relationships
- Isolation and withdrawal from social and personal interactions
- Financial issues
- Employment or school problems
- Dangerous driving or impulsive behaviours
- Anger issues/overly emotional
- Fluctuating moods
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping and relaxing
- Regular binge drinking or drug taking epsiodes
- Risky and unpredictable behaviour
- Poor mental health
- Use of alcohol or drugs to cope with depression or anxiety
The Link Between Mental Health and Addiction
Certain psychological disorders cause a higher risk factor in the future for people with addiction. It is reported that 60% of individuals with mental health disorders also have substance abuse issues. This is because alcohol or drugs often exaggerate poor mental health symptoms, and therefore create a cycle of addiction and a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. If a person does not get the help they need, they may turn to substances to help deal with their mental health.
Dual diagnosis is an important diagnosis, and once diagnosed, offers a person struggling with the condition to find a healthy pathway to sobriety by addressing the core problems with a successful treatment plan. During dual diagnosis rehabilitation, your programme can be tailored to your needs, in order to handle core issues and above that, create stability and effective mental health treatments for the long term.
Diagnosing Dual Diagnosis: Identifying Co-Occurring Disorders
During a diagnosis, you will be psychologically assessed. During this evaluation, professionals start screening and multi-level assessments and will want to identify three major things:
- Physical disorders resembling psychiatric disorders
- Physical disorders caused by psychiatric disorders or their treatment
- Somatic disorders accompanying psychiatric disorders
They will then proceed to assess you by asking numerous questions to learn more about your condition. These will be simple and often do not take a long time to complete, and both triggers and symptoms will be assessed. The more honest and open your answers, the easier it is to come to a conclusion about the best treatment programme for you.
A dual diagnosis can also be identified through your own GP. They will be able to determine your mental health and gain insight into your current moods, thoughts and behavioural patterns.
Treatment for Dual Diagnosis
The principles of care for dual diagnosis are simple. A full psychological treatment plan must be made in order to ensure a healthy recovery journey, and addiction recovery alongside mental health recovery should be undertaken in a professional setting. Treatment of dual diagnosis may include drug or alcohol detoxification, psychotherapy, and counselling, which are all proven methods and often work most successfully during an inpatient dual diagnosis programme.
However, there are also some public sector options that offer outpatient treatment options. This may include AA meetings and local counselling sessions. However, there can be a long waiting list for NHS rehab options and often there is a lower success rate than inpatient rehabilitation. Private rehab offers full-scale support, with a professional multidisciplinary team, a support network in the months after rehab, and a chance to ensure you have the very best chance of long-term sobriety.
How to Help Someone with Dual Diagnosis
Helping someone with a dual diagnosis takes time, effort and focus. There is no quick fix to the issue, and often things can get harder before they get better, and knowing what dual diagnosis means is the first step to recovery. That is why professional solutions such as private rehabilitation can have the most impact on people wanting to find a healthy route in life. Addiction is a disease, and therefore it is important to remember the following points when dealing with someone facing addiction:
- Speak calmly and supportively
- Never judge their actions, but instead offer help and solutions
- Do not punish them or make them feel worthless
- Ensure that they know you’re always there for them
- Provide a calm environment for them to feel free to express themselves
- Do not ask them to go ‘cold turkey’ as this is highly dangerous
- Offer them a helping hand without pressuring yourself
Whilst it may feel difficult at first, creating a supportive environment will allow you to feel in control and able to freely communicate. People facing dual diagnosis may be incredibly sensitive to rejection and criticism, so ensure that you are willing to learn, that you encourage them frequently and that you are patient on their journey. Rehabilitation has a high level of success, therefore it is often the only pathway. Treatment for dual diagnosis can vary depending on the severity and type of diagnosis, but many factors can create a successful outcome.
For more information on how to best help someone and find out the available pathways, please do not hesitate to contact us today on 0151 268 699.