Many people who struggle with substance use disorders also have mental health concerns. Likewise, many with mental health disorders are also addicted to drugs or alcohol. When an individual has both conditions, they are said to have a dual diagnosis. The statistics on dual diagnosis show that these conditions frequently occur together but dual diagnosis treatment can be effective in managing the symptoms of each disorder.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
Simply put, an individual with dual diagnosis has both an addiction to drugs or alcohol and a mental health disorder. The conditions occur together and should be treated together. About half of the individuals with a mental health issue also have a substance use disorder and vice versa. The symptoms of each condition can worsen the symptoms of the other condition.
Although these conditions occur together in someone with a dual diagnosis, it can be difficult to determine which came first. There are three possibilities as to why they occur together in some people.
- Common risk factors, including stress, trauma, and genetics, can contribute to both substance use and mental health disorders.
- Mental disorders can contribute to substance use disorders as individuals tend to use drugs or alcohol to try to manage their symptoms. Mental disorders may also change the functioning of the brain, making it more likely that these individuals will become addicted.
- Addiction can contribute to the development of mental health disorders. Substance use also changes the brain in ways that may make it more likely that the individual will develop a mental disorder.
Statistics on Dual Diagnosis
In 2019, 9.5 million adults in the US had a dual diagnosis. This was an increase over 2018 numbers, when approximately 9.2 million adults in the US had both mental health and substance use disorders . The 2018 number was higher than the numbers for 2015 and 2016.
Among young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, 2.4 million had a dual diagnosis in 2018. Five million adults between the ages of 26 and 49 were diagnosed with both a mental illness and a substance use disorder. Among adults over the age of 50, 1.7 million had a dual diagnosis.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
The best approach for a dual diagnosis of a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder is to treat both conditions together in an integrated intervention. Treatment must address the individual’s specific situation, but may include:
- Detox : The first step is usually to rid the body of the toxic substances so addiction and mental health treatment can begin. A medically supervised detoxification program will help the individual manage withdrawal symptoms and stay healthy throughout the process.
- Inpatient Rehab : Addressing the individual’s addiction and mental health disorder can be most effective when they receive mental health and medical care 24/7. Therapy, health services, and support are available to the individual to treat their conditions and the underlying causes of each.
- Psychotherapy : Therapy sessions, including alternative therapies such as Gestalt therapy and art therapy, have been proven effective in helping the individual with a dual diagnosis learn how to cope with and how to change ineffective patterns of thinking which could lead to an increased risk of substance use.
- Ongoing Support : Extended care programs, support groups, and 12-Step programs enable the individual with a dual diagnosis to learn how to live a new life after addiction. They will find a supportive network of other individuals with similar experiences and backgrounds who can share in their frustrations and celebrate their successes. An extended care program reinforces the individual’s ability to develop and retain the skills they will need to live a healthier and more fulfilling life in recovery.
Help for Drug Abuse and Mental Health Issues
It’s critical for your recovery to work with a professional with specialized dual-diagnosis expertise. At Hope by the Sea, a southern California addiction treatment center, we help you begin the journey of recovery from drug abuse as well as mental health issues. We specialize in treating you as a whole individual, as well as your family members who are affected, so everyone can embrace recovery with as much support and momentum as possible.
Our team continues to follow federal, state, and local public health guidelines regarding COVID-19 to ensure our clients’ safety. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!