People with mental health issues often suffer from more than one diagnosis at a time. Dual diagnosis is when a mental health disorder co-occurs with a substance use disorder. They are typically classified together since many of their symptoms impact each other. As such, treatment for any individual with a dual diagnosis should be integrated and address both issues. There are some common co-occurring conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Several different mental health diagnoses can exist alongside substance use. Understanding these diagnoses may increase someone’s willingness to seek treatment.
Not Always as Common, Still Co-Occurring
Any mental health diagnosis that occurs alongside substance use disorder should be treated with care. Co-occurring diseases should always be disclosed to professionals involved with a patient’s treatment. As awareness and understanding of all types of mental illness grow, treatment options become more tailored to meet dual diagnosis needs. Some combinations are common while others are rare, so it’s important to discuss specifics with a mental health professional. Of the lesser-known mental health disorders, what are some to look for?
- ADHD (Attention-deficit hyperactive disorder) – ADHD is often recognized by its symptoms. These include difficulty paying attention and an inability to control impulsive behaviors. Approximately 25% of adults with substance use disorder are also affected by ADHD.
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD) – The symptoms of BPD are very similar to that of substance use disorder, so the two are often co-occurring. Those with BPD suffer from unstable self-image, emotional instability, fear of abandonment, and impulsively self-damaging behaviors. BPD can be challenging to treat, and patients are sometimes described as treatment-resistant. Special consideration should be taken to work with such individuals.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – OCD is a co-occurring diagnosis that often develops as patients self-medicate. OCD is marked by repetitive, obsessive thinking and often goes misdiagnosed. In turn, sufferers frequently develop depression and anxiety. Many who suffer from OCD struggle to maintain a healthy daily routine, which is compounded by substance use. All of these things should be considered when treating an OCD patient with a dual diagnosis.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – PTSD is caused by experiencing any number of traumatic events. Symptoms include fear, anxiety, and response to triggers. As substance use is also connected to triggers, it is essential to treat both sides of this dual diagnosis. Those with PTSD often turn to substances to manage their symptoms. Substance use provides temporary relief for the experiences they have as a result of triggers.
- Eating disorders – Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa have the highest mortality rate of any eating disorder. They are marked by an unhealthy relationship with food and poor self-image. A distorted sense of self is found in both eating disorders and in substance use disorder. These are also considered some of the most challenging mental health disorders to treat. As nearly 50% of those who suffer from eating disorders also meet the diagnostic criteria for addiction, there is a need for specialized treatment.
Many suffer in silence from all types of mental illnesses. As a better understanding of substance use disorders develops, it is becoming clear that preconceived notions of addiction need to change. This is true for all types of mental illness, as generation Z is more likely than any generation before to seek help for their mental health.
Treatment facilities are pioneering new ways to treat dual-diagnosis holistically. Now, there are programs available that utilize a team of professionals, rather than one person, to coordinate care for patients. Often the use of medication, psychotherapy, support groups, specialized housing, and 12-Step programs all come together for cohesive care. For many dual-diagnosis patients, inpatient programs are recommended. This round-the-clock access to treatment lays a foundation for long-term recovery.
Struggling with a dual diagnosis can be incredibly isolating. In fact, most of these diagnoses have isolation listed as a symptom. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness when faced with the work of recovery. People often feel as if no one understands the specific struggles they face. Treatment can help patients who struggle with symptoms of dual-diagnosis disorders. There are options to treat the totality of a dual diagnosis and outline plans for continued recovery after treatment.
Ashley Addiction Treatment is an innovative treatment program located on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Ashley provides support for professionals seeking help with addiction. We are able to help people with co-occurring disorders and offer confidential treatment programs to meet your needs. Please reach out to us today at (800) 799-4673.