When people think of mental health disorders or addiction, they generally think of the conditions as individual, isolated problems. However, what many people do not realize is that mental health disorders and addiction problems often occur at the same time, a situation known as dual diagnosis. Get to know some of the facts about dual diagnosis and the treatment options available in such instances. That way if you or a person you care about is dual diagnosed, you will know what to expect and what to do.
The Correlation Between Mental Health And Addiction
One of the common misconceptions regarding the correlation between mental health and addiction is that mental health disorders are always the root cause of an addiction. This is not always the case. In fact, there are two distinct ways that mental health issues and addiction interact.
The first occurs when a person becomes addicted to a substance they use to try to manage the symptoms of their mental health disorder. What often happens is a person tries to self-medicate to alleviate symptoms such as insomnia, depression, or constant worrying. In other instances, the substance abuse problem actually causes the mental health disorder. For example, a meth addict can develop schizophrenia due to changes in brain chemistry and reactions.
Common Mental Health And Addiction Co-Occurrences
While any mental health disorder can co-occur with a substance abuse problem, some are more common than others. One of the most common is the combination of depression and alcohol addiction. Generally, alcohol is used and abused as a coping mechanism for a person suffering from depression.
When a person suffers from major depression, they may use alcohol to numb their pain and sadness, or to help them to be able to navigate and tolerate social situations. And as they use alcohol as a self-medication technique, they develop a tolerance and eventually an addiction.
Anxiety disorders also commonly coincide with addiction. Often, people who suffer from chronic anxiety and panic attacks become addicted to prescription opiates (narcotics). Prescription opiates are usually prescribed by a physician as a pain medication or as sleep aids. However, the primary effect that people with anxiety seek from these medication is relaxation and calm. Because a person with chronic anxiety finds it so difficult to relax, they may begin to overuse the medications and become addicted to the relaxing, euphoric effect.
Treatments For Dual Diagnosis
In the past, mental health disorders and addiction were treated one after the other, not at the same time. However, with advances in treatment techniques, today people can get treatment for both simultaneously.
Dual diagnosis treatment centers and rehabilitation centers that will treat both addiction and mental health disorders are becoming more and more prevalent. Patients in such facilities go to therapy sessions for both their mental health disorder and addiction, are carefully prescribed medications to treat mental health disorders that will not trigger an addiction, as well as standard detox, and recovery treatments for addiction.
The key to treatment is to ensure that neither treatment program hinders or harms the other. The therapists need to be well-versed in both addiction treatments and mental health disorders.
Now that you know more about dual diagnosis, you will know what to do if this situation arises in the future. When it comes to dual diagnosis, understanding and recognition is key to both discovery and treatment. Contact a clinic such as Psychological Associates of PA for more information.