Dual Diagnosis: Treating Substance Abuse and Underlying Mental Issues

Substance Abuse CounsellingDual diagnosis is actually a common occurrence according to the American Medical Association. According to their published report, an estimated 53% of drug addicts and 37% of alcoholics are also struggling with at least one severe mental illness. Of all individuals that are mentally ill, around 29% are abusers of drugs or alcohol.

Basics of Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Treatment of dual diagnosis aims to address not only the individual’s disorder or substance abuse but also the underlying or co-occurring psychiatric diagnosis. Commonly, these psychiatric issues occur with drug dependency or alcoholism:

  • Depressive disorders including bipolar disorder or depression
  • Anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, phobias, OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder, and related disorders
  • Other psychiatric problems like personality disorder and schizophrenia

Many patients are improperly medicated and treated because there are treatment centers that don’t treat dual disorders. These patients, commonly those with anxiety issues, become overmedicated, which negatively impacts them. For depressed patients, improper treatment typically results in patients becoming more depressed and feeling more hopeless.

What You Can Do to Help

The majority of rehab patients don’t know that they have co-occurring mental disorders. Vizown says treatment centers for women and men that offer and specialize in dual diagnosis and detecting more profound issues can give patients a better chance at healing and recovery.

The patient’s own family could be dismissive of underlying psychiatric issues. They may tell the patient to just stop the substance abuse so that he or she will become better. They may be skeptical or indifferent about the patient’s anxiety or panic attacks, and tell the patient it’s just in his or her head.

However, you should know that dual disorders are severe problems that are typically a result of chemical imbalances that can be effectively addressed with proper treatment. If you know someone—a family member, perhaps–who are suffering from these, encourage them to get treatment.