(also referred to as co-occurring disorders) is a term for when someone
experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously.
Either disorder—substance use or mental illness—can develop first. People
experiencing a mental health condition may turn to alcohol or other drugs as a
form of self-medication to improve the mental health symptoms they experience.
However, research shows that alcohol and other drugs worsen the symptoms of
professional fields of mental health and substance use recovery have different
cultures, so finding integrated care can challenging. A national effort led by
psychiatrist Ken Minkoff helps systems integrate these cultures and services on
every level of care.
combinations of dual diagnosis can occur, the symptoms vary widely. Mental
health clinics are starting to use alcohol and drug screening tools to help
identify people at risk for drug and alcohol abuse. Symptoms of substance use
disorder may include:
from friends and family
changes in behavior
substances under dangerous conditions
in risky behaviors
of control over use of substances
a high tolerance and withdrawal symptoms
like you need a drug to be able to function
of a mental health condition can also vary greatly. Warnings signs, such as
extreme mood changes, confused thinking or problems concentrating, avoiding
friends and social activities and thoughts of suicide, may be reason to seek
How Is Dual
treatment for dual diagnosis is integrated intervention, when a person receives
care for both their diagnosed mental illness and substance abuse. The idea that
“I cannot treat your depression because you are also drinking” is
outdated—current thinking requires both issues be addressed.
You and your
treatment provider should understand the ways each condition affects the other
and how your treatment can be most effective. Treatment planning will not be
the same for everyone, but here are the common methods used as part of the
- Detoxification. The first
major hurdle that people with dual diagnosis will have to pass is
detoxification. Inpatient detoxification is generally more effective than
outpatient for initial sobriety and safety. During inpatient detoxification,
trained medical staff monitor a person 24/7 for up to seven days. The staff may
administer tapering amounts of the substance or its medical alternative to wean
a person off and lessen the effects of withdrawal.
- Inpatient Rehabilitation. A person
experiencing a mental illness and dangerous/dependent patterns of substance use
may benefit from an inpatient rehabilitation center where they can receive
medical and mental health care 24/7. These treatment centers provide therapy,
support, medication and health services to treat the substance use disorder and
its underlying causes.
- Psychotherapy is usually a
large part of an effective dual diagnosis treatment plan. In particular,
cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people with dual diagnosis learn how
to cope and change ineffective patterns of thinking, which may increase the
risk of substance use.
- Medications are useful for
treating mental illnesses. Certain medications can also help people
experiencing substance use disorders ease withdrawal symptoms during the
detoxification process and promote recovery.
- Self-Help and Support Groups. Dealing with
a dual diagnosis can feel challenging and isolating. Support groups allow
members to share frustrations, celebrate successes, find referrals for
specialists, find the best community resources and swap recovery tips. They
also provide a space for forming healthy friendships filled with encouragement
to stay clean.
P.S. If you or someone you know in the community needs help for any of the symptoms stated above and would like to speak with a professional call us now at 021-34546364-66 or 021 38896858