Dual diagnosis describes a scenario where individuals struggling with substance abuse are also diagnosed with a mental health disorder, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety or depression. It’s important to recognize the inherent complications of a dual diagnosis, as co-occurring health issue feeds into one another, creating a cycle of addiction that is very difficult to break. Securing support from a trained professional is one of the most proactive steps that a family can take to help a loved one move past their addiction.
Recognizing Dual Diagnosis and Addiction
Illicit drugs and alcohol have profound effects on the mind as well as the body. When a person with a mental health disorder uses drugs or alcohol for relief from their psychological issues, they are not really treating the disorder – only the symptoms. In turn, an advanced substance abuse problem can exacerbate existing mental health conditions.
Consider depression as an example: A person with depression may turn to alcohol to escape the negative feelings caused by their mental disorder. Over time, alcohol dependency develops and the person must drink larger amounts to manage the symptoms of depression. Simultaneously, their body loses the ability to improve its mood without the presence of alcohol. As a result, their depression symptoms feel more severe and they experience an even more desperate desire to drink. A self-destructive cycle of abuse like this is nearly impossible to fix without the help of a professional.
Drug Interactions with Mental Health Disorders
Dual diagnosis is quite common, and many people with mental health issues tend to favor substances that offer relief from their psychological stress. People with anxiety tend to favor depressants, drugs that induce relaxation. Alternatively, people suffering from mood disorders such as depression often favor stimulants, drugs that induce feelings of euphoria. Since their drug of choice directly counteracts the negative feelings of their mental health disorder, their compulsions to continue using are that much more intense.
How Families Can Address Dual Diagnosis
Dual diagnosis cases require more extensive treatment than typical substance abuse cases. It’s vital that people struggling with dual diagnoses seek treatment right away and find a treatment facility that can address their mental health needs. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for untrained family members to distinguish between a mental health disorder, substance abuse problem and a mixture of both. The support and expertise of a professional interventionist can play a major role in guiding your loved one toward the help they need.
Family First Intervention does not believe in one-size-fits-all solutions to substance abuse. We also recognize the vital role that a family plays in helping a loved one to overcome addiction. Trust one of our professional interventionists to guide you through the process of getting your loved one into the ideal facility. We also provide continuing support to you and your family once your loved one has entered treatment.
Ensure Your Loved One Struggling with a Dual Diagnosis Gets the Expert Help They Need