A National Directory of Drug Treatment Centers and Alcohol Treatment Centers, Therapists and Specialists. A free, simple directory providing assistance and guidance for those seeking help regarding alcohol addiction, drug addiction, dependency and many other conditions that affect the mind, body and soul.
Call 800-580-9104 to speak with an alcohol or drug abuse counselor.

Understanding Dual Diagnosis

When two mental disorders or illnesses occur at the same time, or in sequence, in the same person, it is known as comorbidity; when these conditions are diagnosed, it is called a dual diagnosis.

Mental disorders are defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as “A mental condition marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, and emotions to seriously impair the normal psychological or behavioral functioning of the individual.” Dual diagnosis recognizes substance abuse disorder as a co-occurring mental disorder with other mental disorders or illnesses and there is a high prevalence of comorbidity between the conditions.

The Prevalence of Substance Abuse and Illnesses

Often, people who enter treatment for substance abuse, have recognizable symptoms of illness such as infections, diseases, cardiovascular problems, respiratory problems, fatigue, malnutrition, or diabetes. The exposure to abusive substances may have been a result of these illnesses, through prescription medications or attempt to self medicate for relief, or the illnesses may have occurred because of the substance abuse. Dual diagnosis of these conditions can be complicated and requires addressing both issues at the same time in order to be effective.

The Prevalence of Substance Abuse and Mental Disorders

substance abuse and mental health

Comorbidity requires an integrated treatment approach.

Research shows that many people who suffer from a mental disorder also have a substance abuse disorder and vice versa, although one may not be the cause of the other, even if it appeared first. There are many reasons why these disorders overlap although the causes of each may be difficult to establish.

Substance abuse disorders often cause mental disorders because the mind has been altered from the abuse. Repeat use of some substances can seriously damage the brain and central nervous system to the point that the person suffers psychosis, schizophrenia, hallucinations, deliriums, anxiety disorders, panic disorders, depression, and suicidal or harmful tendencies, along with many other psychological issues.

Mental health disorders can affect reasoning and judgment, leading to substance abuse and individuals with mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, or post traumatic stress disorder, will often use or abuse substances to relieve their symptoms. Individuals suffering from other psychiatric disorders may be vulnerable to substances due to biological issues, brain deficits, or other exposures to stress and trauma such as domestic violence, abuse, or neglect.

Under a dual diagnosis, the treatment of both the substance abuse disorder and the mental disorder in continuum is necessary to promote stability, decrease vulnerabilities, prevent relapse, and control the effects that one may have on the other or prevent the effects from worsening.

More Treatment & Detox Articles

Daily alcohol limit ‘unhelpful’

Daily limits on alcohol consumption are meaningless and potentially harmful, experts have warned. The government says men should drink no more than three to four units per day and women no more than two to three. Liver specialist Dr Nick Sheron, of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, says these limits were devised by civil servants….

Continue reading

Getting drunk drivers off roads a costly, complex problem

Mark says he is learning how to “live life on life’s terms.” After two drunken driving convictions and two marijuana possession convictions, the 34-year-old father of four is learning that it is time to grow up and make better choices. He’s learning how in an intensive DWI/Drug Court under the close supervision of McLennan County….

Continue reading

Is Private Addiction Treatment Right for Me?

Private addiction treatment is a discrete and successful way for you to overcome your drug or alcohol addiction. A large amount of people who are addicted to drugs are embarrassed for their communities and loved ones to find out. At the same time, when a person wants to come clean from their drug addiction, having….

Continue reading

Parent notification policies for underage drinking evolve

For years, Virginia Tech had a complicated system for deciding when to let parents know about their underage children’s alcohol-related transgressions. Visits to the hospital or police station warranted immediate notification, but Mom and Dad didn’t have to know about less-serious offenses, such as sneaking a six-pack into the dorm, unless it happened more than….

Continue reading