Despite its growing prevalence, little is known about dual diagnosis conditions outside of the treatment community. Yet these individuals represent high-risk patients who will not respond as well in drug rehab programs that do not meet their specific needs. More importantly, they are also at a higher risk for suicide and other self-harming behaviors -adding additional urgency onto their treatment.
The following information provides an overview of dual diagnosis and how it can best be treated in a rehab setting.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
The term dual diagnosis refers to those individuals suffering from one or more medical disorders at the same time. In the world of drug addiction, dual diagnosis is most commonly used to discuss individuals who have more than one drug addiction, a drug and alcohol addiction, a drug addiction and a psychological problem (such as depression or anorexia), or a drug addiction and a physical health problem (such as AIDS or cancer).
Helping individuals with a dual diagnosis can be challenging for the medical professional. Sometimes the psychological problem involved is caused by drug or alcohol use (or vice-versa) which makes treatment a more intricate, complicated process.
How We View Dual Diagnosis
There are solutions to the dual diagnosis crisis.
More awareness among the medical community has led to more effective treatment of patients who receive a dual diagnosis. More patience and attention to detail in the treatment of these individuals has led to higher levels of success across the board.
At Touchstone Ranch Recovery, we first make sure that all our patients have an accurate diagnosis, whether it is a dual diagnosis or not. Because the presence of mind-altering chemicals such as alcohol or drugs can have such a dramatic effect on a person’s moods and behavior, we treat those with addiction or alcoholism as their primary diagnosis. When there is a suspicion of a possible secondary diagnosis, it is much more visible after the patient is clean from other substances. We work as an integrated care facility—meaning that we refer our sober patients to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals for assistance in treating their dual diagnosis. We work together with these professionals, sharing information and updates regarding the patients’ health, and as a team we help the patient find their most direct route to treatment.
Common Addictions Associated With Dual Diagnosis
Individuals who are suffering from any of the following addictions may be a candidate for a dual diagnosis:
- Alcoholism (or “Alcohol Addiction”)
- Cocaine addiction
- Heroin addiction
- Prescription medication addiction (such as Vicodin addiction orOxyContin addiction)
- Marijuana addiction
- Crystal meth addiction
Common Mental Illnesses Associated with Dual Diagnosis
Although individuals with a dual diagnosis can suffer from any number of mental health issues, there are several which appear to be more prevalent than others.
Common mental conditions associated with dual diagnosis include:
- Bi-polar disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
Dual diagnosis and depression is a particularly difficult situation, with the symptoms of both commonly mimicking one another at different stages (especially when the addiction is to alcohol).
Dual Diagnosis Statistics
There are more individuals classified as dual diagnosis than ever before. The depth of the problem is just now reaching the mainstream, as more and more facilities are becoming equipped to better treat these patients.
How serious is the problem? Consider the following facts about dual diagnosis:
- Well over half of all individuals with a drug addiction are believed to also suffer from a co-occurring mental illness.
- Over a third of all individuals with a mental illness have either a substance abuse problem or a full-on drug addiction or alcohol addiction.
- 1 in 5 individuals currently incarcerated in our prison system suffers from a dual diagnosis.