Dual diagnosis = an individual who has been, or can be, diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder and with a mental illness at the same time.
There is great potential for double trouble for people suffering from dual diagnosis. When you are using, abusing, or addicted to alcohol or drugs, and you have symptoms of a mental illness like depression, anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or borderline personality disorder, the vicious cycle of one contributes to the other, and vice versa.
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, or NAMI, estimates that at least 50% of those who suffer from a diagnosable mental illness also have a diagnosable alcohol or drug dependence. NAMI believes now, and communicates to mental health care and substance abuse treatment professionals, that for most people who enter treatment for chemical dependency and addiction most likely also have a mental illness. Screening and assessment for mental illness symptoms is important throughout the client’s time in rehab.
Suffering From Dual Diagnosis
The double trouble component comes in when a person seeks treatment for either the mental illness or the alcohol or drug problem, instead of seeking a treatment program that treats both. Concurrent treatment lowers the risk of the double trouble potential in those people who are suffering from dual diagnosis.
Think of it this way. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and then you break your ankle, your diabetes treatment is not altered by the treatment you receive for your injured ankle. However, if part of your diabetes treatment is regular exercise, and you can no longer be active because your ankle is hurt, you need to concurrently do what you can to treat both diagnoses, or doctor’s plans, at the same time.
Depression and alcoholism are even more related. For someone who has been diagnosed with depression, avoiding substances that further depress the central nervous system is imperative. Alcohol is one of those substances and contributes to the depressed state, which then leads the individual to want to drink more to avoid feeling depressed.
The potential for double trouble in people suffering from dual diagnosis can be treated with dual diagnosis treatment, the simultaneous healing of the mental illness and substance abuse symptoms.