client asking therapist what is dual diagnosis

What is Dual Diagnosis? Could You Have It?

If you’ve been looking into treatment, you may have seen the term “dual diagnosis.” But what is dual diagnosis? It’s when an individual has both a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder at once. If you think you have a dual diagnosis disorder, there are dual diagnosis treatment centers that can help.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Often, a mental health issue can lead to substance abuse. Neither a mental illness nor a substance abuse issue is anyone’s fault: they are both illnesses that can occur to nearly anyone. You may be inclined to seek help from a mental health treatment center. However, a dual diagnosis can be complex because both issues need to be treated simultaneously.

It’s easiest to understand when you consider someone who has chronic depression. They may have depression due to environmental triggers, or it could run in their family genetically. Medicating this chronic depression can lead to alcoholism, and the alcoholism can make the depression worse.

Answering the question, “What is Dual Diagnosis?” is important at this stage for the purposes of treatment. If you treat only the depression, alcoholism may make it worse. If you treat only the alcoholism, the depression may bring it back.

A dual diagnosis can seem complex because the mental illness and substance abuse usually become cyclic. It may not always be possible to determine whether depression caused alcoholism, or whether alcoholism caused depression, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. What’s important isn’t finding out the origins of both, but rather treating both.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual diagnosis requires a treatment program that will treat both issues at once. This is often known as co-occurring disorder treatment or therapy. It may take some work to discover what the mental reasons are behind an individual’s issues. Nevertheless, experts create individualized treatment plans based on these discovered mental reasons. Medications may be used during co-occurring disorders, to treat the underlying mental condition. Frequently used Anti-anxiety medication or anti-depressants often replace the substance that the patient is currently using to self-medicate. Therapy helps the patient understand how their mental illness led to substance abuse and addiction.

Signs of Dual Diagnosis

There are signs and symptoms connected to dual diagnosis. Here are some of the common ones:

  • You use substances as a method of escape. When you feel anxious or frightened, you may use substances. Substance use self-defeats when you worry about failure.
  • You frequently use substances to “feel alive” or feel as though life is worthwhile. This is an indicator that something is otherwise missing from your life, and you’re using a substance to fill that void.
  • You started using substances as a method of dealing with trauma. Many people have traumatic experiences in their past that they didn’t want to deal with directly. Substance abuse can be a method of hiding this trauma or otherwise ignoring it.
  • You have been diagnosed with a mental illness in the past. Mental illness often needs treatment, whether it’s through medication, therapy, or both. With a past diagnosis of mental health issues, addiction masks the still current problem.
  • You feel empty or hopeless when you are sober. This is a sign that there could be something deeper wrong, or that you aren’t finding your everyday life fulfilling.

If you’ve experienced some of these symptoms, you may have a dual diagnosis. This isn’t a bad thing: knowing what you have is the first step towards getting help. Of course, it’s not possible to reliably self-diagnose: you need the help of a qualified professional to determine whether you might truly have a dual diagnosis. If you believe you are suffering from addiction, substance abuse treatment centers assess mental health while designing treatment.

Help at Promises Behavioral Health

If you’re ready to start on your recovery journey, and you believe you have a dual diagnosis, the time to take your first step is now. Contact the experts at Promises Behavioral Health to find out more. Call 844.875.5609 for your individualized dual diagnosis treatment plan today.

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