Mental health and substance abuse are closely linked, and a dual diagnosis is when someone experiences both simultaneously. Psychiatric conditions and addiction share many common risk factors and the presence of mental illness often indicates a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder, or vice versa.
Also referred to as co-occurring disorders, those with a mental illness may use drugs or alcohol in an effort to self-medicate and alleviate their symptoms. More often than not, illicit substances exacerbate mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression, leading to a negative cycle of worsening symptoms and increased substance use. Furthermore, long-term substance use can permanently alter your brain chemistry and make it difficult to feel happiness or pleasure, regulate your emotions, or think clearly without drugs or alcohol. As a result, men with a dual diagnosis are confronted with unique challenges in recovery and may have a more difficult time achieving sobriety in traditional programs that don’t address their mental health needs.
Research shows a high prevalence of co-occurring disorders in the United States, affecting nearly half of those seeking treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Men are particularly affected, comprising the majority of individuals experiencing mental health and substance disorders at the same time. Unfortunately, more than 50 percent of individuals with a dual diagnosis don’t receive proper medical or psychiatric treatment. Neglecting to address co-occurring disorders is a roadblock to recovery that negatively impacts the likelihood of success in treatment.