Suffering addiction is as confusing as it is destructive. You’re likely wondering how you got here and how you’ll get back to a healthy, normal life. Dual diagnosis can help to answer these questions. Dual diagnosis means you have a mental health disorder underlying your addiction.

What Is Dual Diagnosis with a Mental Health Disorder?

black and white photo of woman with a mental health disorderDual diagnosis is a diagnosis of two disorders occurring together. In substance abuse treatment, clients commonly have addiction coupled with a co-occurring mental illness.

Addiction involves alcohol or drug abuse. This disease often wrecks your work, school, social and family lives. You may suffer relationship, money, legal, health and employment problems.

Many people start using drugs or alcohol because they have an underlying mental illness. On the other side of the coin, a mental health disorder can develop after addiction sets in. It’s not important which came first, the addiction or mental illness. Instead, it’s important to treat both problems at once for lasting, healthy recovery.

Common Mental Health Disorders of Addiction

Clients in addiction treatment commonly suffer PTSD, bipolar disorder, trauma, ADHD, depression and anxiety alongside substance abuse. Mood and anxiety disorders are the most common of these illnesses. Severe dual diagnosis conditions include schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

It can be hard for doctors to diagnose these co-occurring conditions because addiction hides or exaggerates some symptoms. There are also many common symptoms of addiction and mental illness. However, there are some patterns in people that have both addiction and a mental health disorder. These patterns include:

Mental Health Problems Increase in Treatment

Clients with mental illness often self-medicate using drugs or alcohol. When those substances are no longer present, their symptoms of mental illness become more visible. As an example, anxiety makes individuals jumpy and stressed. Depression causes people to sleep too much, retreat to their own space, become emotional and avoid others.
The sad reality is that self-medication of drugs and alcohol don’t adequately address these problems. Instead, they block development of healthy coping skills and make the problems worse. Often, individuals with dual diagnoses also stop having healthy relationships and feel less comfortable in who they are as people. In addition, when people know they have mental illness before substance abuse, drinking or taking drugs interferes with medications their doctor actually prescribes.

Treatment Fails to Help When Only One Problem Is Treated

If you only treat your addiction or the mental illness, you’ll keep relapsing in both addiction and symptoms of your co-occurring condition. One illness fuels the other. A drug-free person with depression eventually returns to the drug that made them feel more alive and vibrant. Drinking again takes the anxious individual back into a cycle of anxiety.
Some substance abuse treatment programs discourage any medication use, even for mental illness. Others treat only the disease of addiction. So if you have co-occurring conditions, these programs will just keep you in a cycle of short-term sobriety and relapse.

Integrated Treatment

The best thing you can do to end your active addiction is to get the integrated treatment you really need. A dual diagnosis program provides treatment for both your addiction and your mental illness at the same time. You learn coping skills for both disorders and therapies help you work through symptoms and causes of each condition.

It’s important to seek a quality rehab for your dual diagnosis treatment. The road to recovery is tough. You need support, guidance, education, and counseling every step of the way through your addiction treatment journey.

Crestview Recovery in Portland, Oregon provides dual diagnosis treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. Dual diagnosis clients benefit from masters-level therapists leading therapies that include:

Adults from all over the Pacific Northwest turn to Crestview Recovery for a strong recovery. You can gain strong recovery at Crestview, too. Call Crestview Recovery at 866.262.0531 to start today.