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Dual Diagnosis


People living with drug and alcohol addiction often struggle with secondary problems, including secondary substance use disorders, behavioral addictions, and mental health disorders. The simultaneous existence of a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder is known as a dual diagnosis, with a variety of problematic interactions possible between conditions. Common dual diagnosis interactions include depression disorder and alcoholism, generalized anxiety disorder and Valium abuse, eating disorders and stimulant abuse, and drug-induced psychosis. As you can see, dual diagnosis is a broad term that can be used to describe a wide range of conditions, many of which require professional treatment and support. If you know anyone who is living with a dual diagnosis, it’s important to contact a specialized treatment center in Vermont as soon as possible.

Dual Diagnosis Statistics

Dual diagnosis is a major problem throughout Vermont and across the United States. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 17.5 million people in America have struggled with a serious mental health disorder during the past 12 months, including depression disorder and a range of anxiety disorders. Almost a quarter of this number, or roughly 4 million people, also have a co-existing substance use disorder. A wide spectrum of psychoactive substances are represented in these statistics, including alcohol, prescription opiates and sedatives, and illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine. For example, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, people who abuse alcohol are four times more likely to experience clinical depression than the general population. Similar figures exist for other substances, with people often using drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication.

What is a Mental Health Disorder?

A mental illness, also known as a mental health disorder or psychiatric disorder, is a problematic behavioral or mental problem that manifests in a variety of ways. Common examples of mental illness in the United States include depression disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People with mental health conditions face a range of problems in modern society, including interpersonal conflict, work and school productivity, communication skills, and social stigma. People living with mental health conditions face higher rates of homelessness and unemployment than those without mental problems, with rates of drug abuse and addiction also much higher than the general population.

Depression Disorder and Addiction

Multiple connections have been found between clinical depression and substance abuse, with people suffering from depression disorder more likely to experience alcoholism and opiate addiction among other conditions. While the exact reasons for this connection are unclear, some people use drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication and others develop depression problems as a result of drug addiction. Central nervous system (CNS) depressants have a particularly strong connection with depression disorder, including alcohol, marijuana, heroin, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, Serax, and Librium. Other than alcohol, marijuana, and heroin, all of these drugs are prescription medications.

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis Conditions

Clinicians often struggle to diagnose and treat dual diagnosis conditions, with complex and chaotic relationships existing between disorders. Before a treatment plan can begin, clinicians will attempt to define a single primary disorder and instigate an appropriate treatment plan. While this seems like a simple enough process, complex bidirectional relationships, self-medication, and symptom-mimicking patterns make this a difficult endeavor indeed. Common treatment patterns for dual diagnosis cases include primary treatment, sequential treatment, parallel treatment, and integrated treatment.

Contacting an addiction specialist can help you change your life for the better. Reach out to one today.