Dual Diagnosis

Used to describe the co-morbid (pertaining to a disease or other pathological process that occurs simultaneously with another) condition of a person suffering from both a mental illness and a substance abuse problem is known as dual diagnosis.  In cases where a person is diagnosed with this illness, the person needs to treat both problems to fully recover.

More common than you might think, studies show 37% of alcohol abusers and 53% of drug abusers to have at least one serious mental illness.  Furthermore, of those diagnosed with a mental illness, 29% abuse either drugs or alcohol.

Psychiatric problems commonly associated with dual diagnosis are:

–       Depressive disorders (depression, bipolar, etc.)

–       Anxiety disorders (GAD, panic disorder, OCD, etc.)

–       Psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, personality disorders, etc.)

The National Institute of Mental Health conducted a study listing the seven major disorders associated with dual diagnosis and how much each one increases an individual’s risk for substance abuse.

Disorder Increased Risk for Substance Abuse

Antisocial personality disorder            15.5%

Mania                                                  14.5%

Schizophrenia                                     10.1%

Panic disorder                                     4.3%

Major depressive episode                   4.1%

OCD                                                    3.4%

Phobias                                               2.4%

 

Which problem develops first is unclear.  More often than not, it is the psychiatric problem that appears first.  For example, in a situation where someone is dealing with an antisocial personality disorder, they may attempt to feel calmer or more cheery by drinking of using drugs.  This is known as self-medication.   As a result, this may lead to physical or psychological dependency.  In cases where alcohol or drug dependency is the primary condition, episodes of fits of rage, depression or suicide attempts may develop as a result.

Although treatment can be difficult, it does exist.  Treatment should be integrated, not separated, and should be a collective decision between the treatment center and patient.  Recovery is often viewed as a marathon, not a spring, and the methods and outcome goals need to be explicit.

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Dr. Rodriguez founded the Delray Center in 2003 and built it on a foundation of core clinical, professional, and ethical principles that are adhered to still to this day. Dr. Rodriguez founded the Delray Center in 2003 and built it on a foundation of core clinical, professional, and ethical principles that are adhered to still to this day.