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What Are the Different Types of Dual Diagnosis Disorders?

When someone suffers from a mental health disorder, they are at increased risk of developing a substance use disorder. According to SAMHSA and the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 21.5 million adults have a dual diagnosis disorder. It is equally important to understand there are different types of dual diagnosis disorders. Learning more about a dual diagnosis can help individuals decide when to seek treatment.  

Defining a Dual Diagnosis Disorder

Dual diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorders, is the simultaneous presence of a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. Understanding dual diagnosis is critical because it emphasizes the complex interplay between each disorder, which often exacerbates each other. This intersection can complicate treatment, making it essential to recognize and address both conditions concurrently for effective rehab and recovery. 

How Do They Start?

Several different factors can influence the onset of a dual diagnosis. Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to mental health and substance use disorders. Family history can also play a role in the predisposition of conditions. 

In some cases, an existing mental health condition causes individuals to self-medicate with substances as a coping mechanism for their symptoms. Eventually, this can lead to substance addiction. 

In other cases, alcohol and substance use can trigger underlying mental health disorders. It can also cause these conditions to worsen as the person sinks further into addiction. Furthermore, having unresolved trauma can lead to substance use as a coping mechanism and eventual addiction. 

Environmental factors can also play a role in dual diagnosis conditions. For example, the societal stigma of men seeking help for mental health issues. This stigma can cause them to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs rather than seek help. 

How Do They Impact Someone?

Dual diagnosis disorders can impact someone in different ways, such as: 

  • Deteriorating mental health: The presence of co-occurring conditions often exacerbates mental health disorder symptoms. 
  • Deteriorating physical health: Continued substance use weakens the immune system and increases risks for other health problems. 
  • Relationship problems: Addiction and mental health issues often cause damage to existing relationships. 
  • Self-isolation: Many people with mental health and substance use disorders withdraw from friends and family. This self-isolation can further worsen their addiction and related symptoms.
  • Difficulties managing daily responsibilities: It can become challenging to maintain employment, go to school, and manage daily responsibilities. 
  • Increases risk-taking and drug-seeking behaviors: People are willing to take greater risks to obtain substances and make snap decisions without considering the consequences. 

Examples and Common Diagnoses

Individuals experiencing a dual diagnosis face unique challenges requiring specialized treatment approaches. The following sections examine some common co-occurring conditions. 

Alcohol and Depression

Alcohol abuse is frequently linked to depression, creating a vicious cycle where one condition worsens the other. According to the NIAAA, around 20% of people suffering from depression also have an alcohol use disorder. This comorbidity often leads to severe impairments in daily functioning, decreased quality of life, and increased risk for suicide. 

Anxiety and Xanax

Xanax is commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders but has a high potential for misuse due to its fast-acting relief properties. An estimated 16% of adults in the United States take some form of anti-anxiety medication like Xanax annually, according to the CDC. The misuse or abuse of benzos can develop rapidly as one builds tolerance to Xanax. It can also further complicate anxiety symptoms and cause them to worsen. 

Depression and Marijuana

The relationship between depression and marijuana use is complex. NIDA reports indicate depressed individuals are 2 times more likely to use marijuana than people without depression. Some users claim marijuana brings short-term relief from depressive symptoms. However, chronic use increases the risk of aggravating and worsening of the symptoms. 

Recognizing Dual Diagnosis Disorder Symptoms

Identifying symptoms of dual diagnosis can be challenging due to the overlapping and interacting nature of mental health conditions and substance use disorders. However, some key indications that can suggest the presence of co-occurring disorders include:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Increased risk-taking
  • Changes in social circles
  • Chronic sadness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies one used to enjoy
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Emotional detachment while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Needing alcohol or drugs just to function
  • Inability to stop using drugs or alcohol 
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to cut back or stop substance use
  • Impaired concentration
  • Memory loss and blackouts

Dangers and Risks of Untreated Dual Diagnosis Disorders

Untreated dual diagnosis poses significant dangers and risks. When left untreated, both disorders can worsen over time. This makes it harder for the individual to function in their daily life. Another concern is Individuals with untreated dual diagnosis are at a higher risk of self-harm and suicidal behaviors. A person’s physical health can also suffer from increased risks of illnesses and diseases. Additionally, as tolerance builds and alcohol and drug use increases to achieve the desired effects, the risk of overdose increases. 

Which Treatments Are Best?

The best dual diagnosis treatments include personalized and comprehensive care plans incorporating a wide range of evidence-based and holistic therapies. Medically supervised detox should be the first step for addressing addiction. During detox, the individual should also begin individual and group therapy to start treatment for their mental health disorder. 

Once they near the end of the detox, they should transition to an appropriate rehab program for continued treatment of their co-occurring conditions. Rehab program options could include inpatient rehab, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient. Each program is designed to address the unique needs of the individual and provide the level of care and support they need. 

Start Treatment for Dual Diagnosis Disorders in Ohio Today

When you are ready to seek help for your co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, help is available at Ohio Addiction Recovery Center. Our compassionate and caring team provides comprehensive and personalized treatment options tailored to your specific needs. Don’t wait to discover the path to a substance-free future with improved mental health. 

Contact us now to learn about our approach to treating dual diagnosis disorders in Ohio.

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