For those unfamiliar with the term, dual diagnosis it is frequently used interchangeably with the terms co-occurring illnesses, comorbid disorders, co-occurring disorders, dual disorder, and also double trouble. People of all ages and from all walks of life experience a dual diagnosis, sadly they often face a wide range of psychological issues and can also experience multiple interaction illnesses.
Anymore, co-occurring disorders is a term increasingly used when referring to dual diagnosis, co-occurring substance abuse disorders and psychiatric or emotional illness. Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA), is a 12 Step self-help program for men and women with a dual diagnosis.
Dual diagnosis is defined by Dual Recovery Anonymous as meaning that an individual has two separate but very interrelated diagnoses.
Psychiatric Diagnoses - A substance abuse diagnosis, which may include both alcohol and drugs.
There are potential problems that can occur resulting from a dual diagnoses such as:
- Psychiatric symptoms could be masked or covered up by the use of alcohol or drugs.
- The use of drugs or alcohol or the withdrawal from any of them can either simulate (mimic) or give the appearance of some psychiatric illness.
- When alcohol dependency or drug addiction is left untreated, this can contribute to the reoccurrence of psychiatric symptoms.
- Psychiatric illness left untreated can contribute to a drug or alcohol relapse.
Consequences and Other Problems Associated with Dual Diagnoses
- Problems with family
- Intimate relationship problems
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Financial problems
- Problems with school or employment
- High risk behavior when driving
- Receiving chemical dependency services multiple times due to relapse
- Multiple admissions for psychiatric care
- Increased emergency room visits
- Increased need for health care services
- Legal problems
Dual Diagnosis and Substance Abuse
Dual diagnosis is common among individuals with substance abuse disorders, they're battling mental illness and substance abuse problems and their life is often miserable and out of control. Unfortunately this is a common occurrence, many people struggle with continuing drug and/or alcohol problems along with mental health illness at the same time.
It's very common for individuals with mental health problems to turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication but there are also many that abuse these substances and begin experiencing mental health issues. Sadly no matter which serious condition took place first, drugs and alcohol can make mental health problems worse.
Unless a proper dual diagnoses is made and treatment for both conditions is received, bringing any kind of long term recovery from substance abuse can be extremely difficult, that's why so many continuously relapse when they stop using. With the right treatment and support, people can learn how to maintain lasting freedom from substance use and successfully manage an emotionally healthy lifestyle.
National Alliance on Mental Illness