When addiction and mental health disorders co-occur
What Is a Dual Diagnosis?
When a person presents with both a substance use disorder and at least one mental health condition, the result is a dual diagnosis. More common than you might think, approximately 9.2 million US adults suffer from co-occurring disorders at any given time.
Alcohol and drug addiction frequently co-occur alongside conditions like depression and anxiety. For instance, about 20% of people with social anxiety disorder also have an alcohol use or dependence issue, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The National Institutes of Health found that people with depression are twice as likely to have a substance use disorder, and those with bipolar disorder are seven times as likely to have a substance use disorder.
Negative Effects of a Dual Diagnosis
A dual diagnosis can negatively impact an individual’s life. Someone who began suffering from a mental health condition may have turned to substances to ease the symptoms, but the relief doesn’t last long. Frequent and excessive use of substances quickly leads to tolerance, which can cause a person to use greater and greater amounts of drugs or alcohol in order to simply feel normal. When addiction sets in, an individual may not only experience withdrawal symptoms without the substance, but they may experience exacerbated mental health symptoms.
In the same way, initial substance use, such as using prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes or in unprescribed doses, may precipitate mental health symptoms like anxiety or depression. Excessive alcohol and drug use can cause psychosis and chemical imbalances that create mental health problems. A person dealing with both conditions is likely to experience impaired social functioning. Broken relationships, job loss, financial difficulties, and other problems may result.
People with depression are twice as likely to have a substance use disorder, and people with bipolar disorder are seven times as likely to have a substance use disorder.
-National Center for Biotechnology Information study
Dual Diagnosis by the Numbers
According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:
- Over 47 million US adults have at least one mental health condition, and over 20 million have at least one substance use disorder. Approximately 9.2 million have both (a dual diagnosis).
- Almost half of US adults with co-occurring disorders are not receiving any treatment.
- Nearly 360,000 US adolescents suffer from both addiction and at least one mental health condition.
- 1.3% of all US adults are dealing with a severe mental illness as well as a substance use disorder.
According to a study published through the National Center for Biotechnology Information:
- As high as 67% of those seeking treatment for alcohol dependence had experienced depression, and 6-8% had experienced bipolar disorder during their lifetime.
- In a survey of nearly 300 cocaine users, approximately 44% had a current mood disorder, and 61% had a history of mood disorders.
Symptoms of a Dual Diagnosis
Since a dual diagnosis can be a combination of any substance use disorder and mental health condition, symptoms may vary. However, a person may be suffering from a dual diagnosis if he or she:
- Has frequent feelings of anxiety and depression and engages in excessive drug or alcohol use
- Behaves erratically and self-isolates
- Engages in risk-taking behaviors and frequent substance use
- Has mental health symptoms that seem to increase with use of substances
- Has a high tolerance for drug or alcohol use
- Engages in compulsory use of drugs or alcohol to sleep or feel relaxed
- Does not seem interested in life activities, is increasingly fearful and closed off, and experiences aches or physical pain when not using substances
- Continually seeks out substances to relieve pain or alter mood
It’s important for individuals suffering from a dual diagnosis to receive treatment for both conditions in the same setting. If not, the untreated condition may perpetuate a relapse.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment at The Meadows
If you or a loved one is in need of dual diagnosis treatment, we’re here to help. The Meadows specializes in helping individuals with co-occurring disorders find the path to recovery, treating addiction and mental health conditions in the same setting for the best possible outcome. We offer innovative, research-backed treatment that includes individual, group, and experiential therapy. Call us today to find out more about our program and how we can help you or a loved one begin your recovery journey.
Articles About Dual Diagnosis
Our Admissions team is here to help 24 hours a day and is experienced in assisting others with compassion, dignity, and respect — hallmark values of The Meadows for more than 45 years. The Meadows’ Admissions Specialists are here to help you on your way to a healthier and more productive lifestyle. When you call, they will lead you through a series of questions to determine if The Meadows is a good fit, and how soon your treatment can begin. If you are interested in The Meadows for yourself or a loved one, call or fill out an admissions form today!
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