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What is Dual Diagnosis?

Struggling with drugs or alcohol is a challenge all on its own, when mental health struggles are also prevalent, it causes an even bigger challenge. Dual diagnosis is a treatable condition that can cause upheaval in the lives of individuals who are struggling. Getting the proper care and support is vital to maintaining long-term abstinence from these toxic substances. Understanding exactly what dual diagnosis is, and how to recognize the signs can be life-saving for individuals who find themselves struggling.

Defining Dual Diagnosis

As previously stated, struggling with substances like drugs and alcohol is a challenge in itself. When someone also struggles with mental health, it can cause a challenge that can seem impossible to overcome. Dual diagnosis is when mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety coexist with substance abuse within the same individual simultaneously. Mental health conditions and addiction both come with their own set of risks. When both conditions exist within the same person, these risks become greater. Getting the right help in order to overcome addiction and address mental health conditions is very important. 

Dual Diagnosis and Addiction

The connection between mental health and addiction can be obvious. However, for those who are struggling, it can almost sneak up on them. Mental health is a struggle many people across the country deal with on a daily basis. Often, symptoms of depression and anxiety can be extremely overwhelming and people turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping and self-medication. This practice often leads to these individuals continuing to use substances to cope and eventually, addiction can develop.

On the other side of the coin, addiction can cause mental health conditions to worsen and become more prevalent. Addressing addiction and mental health is a vital component of dual diagnosis treatment. Treating one condition and not the other often causes relapse. This is why proper treatment for these conditions is crucial to success.

Dual Diagnosis Risk Factors

There is no one formula that will say that a person will struggle with mental health and substance abuse resulting in dual diagnosis. However, there are some factors that can contribute to its development. These factors can include things like stress and trauma. Other risk factors can include:

  • Exposure to substance abuse
  • Family history of substance abuse or mental health
  • Poverty
  • Social isolation
  • Environment

Genetics can play a big role when it comes to struggling with substances or mental health. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse often run in families. Those who have a family history of these conditions may be at greater risk of developing dual diagnosis.

Signs of Dual Diagnosis

The signs of dual diagnosis are important to know and identify. When someone is able to identify these signs in a loved one, or even themselves, it can help be a catalyst to getting help and healing addiction. Left untreated, mental health conditions and substance abuse can lead to an array of negative results that can be extremely detrimental to someone’s life. Both substance abuse and mental health will each have their own set of signs and symptoms. They will vary based on the substance being used, as well as the mental health condition that is present.

Signs of substance abuse could include withdrawal from family and friends, sudden behavioral changes, and engaging in risky behaviors. They can also include developing a tolerance for the substance, feeling like the substance is needed in order to function, and withdrawal symptoms when the substance is not being used. As for mental health, symptoms that may be present include mood swings, trouble focusing, and avoiding social functions. Other signs of mental health conditions may include confusion and suicidal thoughts. Identifying these signs could help someone get much-needed help in order to begin healing and growing despite struggling with a dual diagnosis. 

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis

Healing is possible. Overcoming addiction is possible. It takes consistency, hard work, and dedication, and can be one of the greatest gifts someone can give themselves. Dual diagnosis treatment begins with removing these harmful toxins from the system. Detox is a necessary first step. Treating mental health conditions and not the addiction can likely result in continued drug and alcohol use.

Once the substances have been removed from the system, there are different kinds of effective approaches that may be implemented as part of treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT, is beneficial in helping individuals recognize how thought patterns can affect behaviors. Dialectical behavioral therapy, DBT, focuses on accepting feelings and thoughts and finding healthy ways of coping. Both of these help those struggling with both mental health and substance abuse to learn positive coping skills. 

Healing From a Dual Diagnosis is Possible

Struggling with both addiction and mental health is a challenge that even the toughest of people find difficult to endure. Mental health conditions can cause emotional turmoil in an individual, and addiction can exacerbate the conditions. If you or a loved one are struggling with a dual diagnosis, there is help available. At Louisville Addiction Center, we strive to provide a safe and healing environment in which people can begin their recovery.

Contact us today and give yourself the gift of a healthier mental and physical lifestyle.

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