Understanding Dual Diagnosis: Addiction and Mental Health Disorders
A dual diagnosis is when someone has both a substance abuse problem and a mental health disorder. Some of the mental disorders seen in dual diagnosis include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
This isn’t an all-inclusive list. Other mental health conditions can appear as co-occurring disorders with substance abuse problems. For example, people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and eating disorders may also be at an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder.
The substances abused vary but can include any form of alcohol or drug abuse. People may use cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, prescription medications or another substance.
Why Is Dual Diagnosis So Common?
More than nine million people in the United States qualify for a dual diagnosis. These same statistics show that men make up more than half of dual diagnosis patients. This is because addiction and mental health are intricately connected. In most cases, addiction can affect your mental health. In many cases, mental health disorders can lead to addiction.
How Addiction Can Affect Mental Health
The mind-altering effects of addictive substances can potentially contribute to the emergence of mental illness over prolonged periods. For instance, extended usage of hallucinogens has the potential to result in schizophrenia. Likewise, individuals who frequently consume stimulants may encounter difficulties in concentration and exhibit symptoms resembling ADHD. It is important to note that people with a substance use disorder are more susceptible to experiencing a dual diagnosis in mental health, which involves the co-occurrence of a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder.
How Mental Disorders Can Lead to Addiction
Untreated mental illness can be a difficult thing to live with. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the health insurance, community support or understanding of their mental illness required to seek professional assistance. While professional help for a psychiatric disorder may be difficult for some, access to alcohol or drugs isn’t. These substances are widely available in many areas.
So, what does it mean to have a dual diagnosis? Co-occurring disorders most often happen when a person with a mental disorder seeks self-medication to cope with their symptoms. Unfortunately, drug abuse (as mentioned above) can lead to even more severe mental illness in those with existing problems.
You may have begun your substance use to self-treat a mental disorder. However, over time, your mental disorders become worse because of the mind-altering effects of the substance. This leads you to heavier substance use, making your mental illnesses worse. It’s a vicious cycle that’s challenging to break on your own.
How Alta Loma Can Help Treat Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Alta Loma is located in Georgetown, Texas, just a few miles outside Austin. Our center treats men’s mental health issues and provides treatment for substance abuse. With men needing more than half of all dual diagnosis treatment, finding a place where you feel accepted and understood is critical.
We provide men with a relaxing atmosphere where they can focus on their recovery without outside stressors. While staying in our comfortable settings, you’ll have access to all the support and assistance you need to manage your co-occurring disorders successfully.