When a person is diagnosed with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, and is also diagnosed with a mental disorder, the term “dual diagnosis” is used to describe both the person and the condition. When somebody has co-occurring disorders, each of the conditions tends to make the other one worse. Ironically, the drug addiction may come about because the patient’s mental disorder has not been diagnosed, so non-diagnosis is followed by dual diagnosis.
Co-occurring disorders require special treatment. Find qualified rehabilitation centers and get immediate support by calling Drug Rehab Centers Elizabeth at (908) 329-2158.
One of the biggest problems with patients suffering mental disorders is that the nature of the disorder means it is often undiagnosed for a long time. Many symptoms that a patient may report to a doctor can be attributed to physical issues. As a result, physicians will often prescribe drugs to address these physical issues. Because the underlying mental disorder is the real source of the problem, the prescribed drugs will not bring permanent relief.
This can lead the patient into thinking that he or she needs to take the prescribed drugs more frequently, or to increase each dosage. The next stage is that the person builds a tolerance to the drug, and needs even more of the drug to achieve the same results. The patient now has a dependency on the drug, and is an addict.
There are no accurate figures available regarding the total number of patients with co-occurring conditions there may be. This is for the same reason that diagnosis of mental disorders can be delayed. People who do not know they have a mental disorder will not be receiving treatment for it, and do not appear in any official statistics.
However, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that almost 18 million people over the age of 18 in the United States had a serious mental disorder in the previous year, and almost 25% of those people also had a drug or alcohol dependency, or were abusing substances.
The two conditions that have been diagnosed have to be treated at the same time. The treatment of the drug or alcohol addiction involves withdrawing from the substance. Since opioid drugs may form part of the treatment for clinical conditions like depression or PTSD, total withdrawal from these may not be possible.
The patient will need to consult with psychopharmacological experts to devise a pattern of treatment that eliminates dependency and addiction, but will continue to deal with the mental disorder. Psychotherapy sessions will play an important role in the treatment of dual diagnosis.
Because of the delicate balance that has to be maintained when trying to get dual diagnosis patients off the addictive substance, inpatient treatment works best. Even people who have no mental disorders can suffer terrible delusions and hallucinations when withdrawing from addictive substances. That problem can be much worse for people with mental illnesses.
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