Living with Dual Diagnosis – Woods at Parkside (Oglethorpe)

Living with Dual Diagnosis – Woods at Parkside (Oglethorpe)
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Meta Description: In 2016, there were roughly 8.2 million people in the US struggling with dual diagnosis. Learn what you need to know.

Living with Dual Diagnosis

 While recovery is in no small part a matter of taking accountability for your actions, you may be wondering if there’s anything else you need to understand about yourself to feel more at peace. In this case, you may need a dual diagnosis in Ohio, which will help you gain a deeper understanding of the steps you need to take towards recovery.

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

People with dual diagnosis have both a substance abuse issue and a mental health disorder. In 2016, there were roughly 8.2 million people in the US struggling with co-occurring disorders. Many of them weren’t receiving the treatment they needed.

In fact, only 7% of them were getting treated for both addiction and mental health.

It’s important to understand if you have both substance abuse issues and a mental health disorder because there are much lower success rates for treatment if only one of them is diagnosed.

What Is the Difference Between Co-Occurring Disorder and Dual Diagnosis?

Many people use the terms “Dual Diagnosis” and “Co-Occurring Disorder” interchangeably. “Co-occurring disorder” is the more recent term, but it can also be used to refer to someone who’s experiencing both a mental disability and a mental disorder.

Which Do You Treat First?

If you’re experiencing both a substance abuse issue and a mental disorder, you may be wondering which one you need to treat first. In one sense, the answer is both. Staying sober and managing your mental health are both lifelong challenges, which require sustained work and self-improvement.

However, if you’re looking for a more specific answer, sobriety is important when navigating mental health concerns. Therefore, you want to detox before going through mental health treatment. Of course, you should try to get help with both issues.

Relapsing doesn’t invalidate any progress you’ve made. Instead, it gives you an opportunity to learn more about yourself and try again.

What Are the Most Common Conditions with a Dual Diagnosis?

Different forms of mental illness affect the brain differently. It makes sense, then, that the disorder someone suffers with influences which substance they’re most likely to abuse. Here are some of the most common combinations of mental health disorders and substance abuse issues.

Cocaine and Anxiety

It may seem surprising that people suffering from anxiety are more likely to abuse cocaine, but these two have a parasitic relationship.

Cocaine can make you feel more comfortable in social situations, which is addictive for people suffering from anxiety. Prolonged cocaine use also worsens anxiety, making withdrawal particularly difficult for this group of addicts.

Alcohol and ADHD

ADHD and alcoholism share similar genes. This already makes people with ADHD more likely to abuse alcohol. On top of that, ADHD can lead to troubles with impulse control, making it more difficult to stop drinking once someone has started.

Alcohol and Bipolar Disorder

When someone has bipolar disorder, their cycling manic and depressive episodes can make them feel out of control of their lives. Alcohol is then used to mask this discomfort. People with bipolar disorder are most likely to abuse alcohol when they’re in their manic phase.

There’s also research being done into whether alcoholism and bipolar disorder share genes, but the results are not yet conclusive.

Marijuana and Schizophrenia

While research is still preliminary, there’s a correlation between schizophrenia and marijuana consumption. While CBD can help relieve symptoms, THC aggravates them. This can lead to a toxic cycle for people suffering from schizophrenia.

PTSD and Opioids

People suffering from PTSD are more likely to have substance abuse issues because they’re trying to avoid difficult memories. Opioids are a particularly big issue because many people suffering from PTSD also experience chronic pain.

While research is preliminary, there’s also a potential correlation between PTSD and pain thresholds, leaving PTSD sufferers more likely to use and abuse opioids.

How Does Mental Health Affect Addiction?

Many addicts are using substances to cope with something. If you have a mental illness – especially if it’s undiagnosed – your substance of choice could be what you use to try and manage the stresses of day-to-day life.

As you are no doubt aware, this doesn’t work. The highs and lows that come with a substance abuse disorder will only aggravate your mental health, making it more difficult to find the balance that you need.

At the same time, disordered mental health can make it harder to understand that you need treatment, and it could make you more vulnerable to triggers. For this reason, it’s important to get treated for any mental health issues you have, as well as any substance abuse disorders.

If you choose to go to rehab, the facility will likely have professionals who understand both substance abuse and mental health. The fact that these problems are often paired together means many professionals can help you work through both problems.

Getting Diagnosed

Until the 1990s, mental health and substance abuse were seen as different issues. This made getting help for them difficult. Luckily, times have changed, and you’re more likely to find facilities that are able to help you get treatment for the different issues you’re experiencing.

When you’re determining where you go to get treatment, you’ll want to ask if the staff who will be working with you have both mental health and substance abuse experience. What does success look like for them? What sorts of disorders and substance abuse issues are they most experienced in treating?

If you or a loved one ask the right questions, you can find a facility that gives you the treatment you need.

What Is the Best Treatment for Dual Diagnosis?

There are many different forms of therapy available today. While Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most popular, patients will have their own preferences.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you want to find treatment for both your substance abuse and mental health. The idea that you should treat both at once is called Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment (IDDT). Many different forms of therapy can be used as part of IDDT.


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I am a pop culture and social media expert. Aside from writing about the latest news health, I also enjoy pop culture and Yoga. I have BA in American Cultural Studies and currently enrolled in a Mass-Media MA program. I like to spend my spring breaks volunteering overseas.

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