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Dual diagnosis is a term applied to individuals who suffer from a both a mood disorder (e.g. depression, anxiety, etc.) and a substance abuse disorder. There is a strong connection between substance abuse and mental health disorders. These co-occurring conditions affect roughly 14 million Americans.
Many people use alcohol and drugs to treat the symptoms of a mental health condition, and in other cases, substance abuse increases an individual’s risk of developing a mental illness. Unfortunately, substance abuse almost always results in a worsening of the psychological condition. Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers Metuchen helps patients address both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction, as well as the underlying emotional causes of it. Call Drug Treatment Centers Metuchen today at (732) 226-8908 to find out more about our treatment programs.
Anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are often associated with substance abuse. Approximately 37% of alcohol abusers and 53% of drug abusers have at least one serious mental illness. About 65% of individuals with mental illness abuse one or more substances during their lifetime.
An area of the brain called the limbic system is involved in pleasure, reward, and our anxiety response. It should come as no surprise then that anxiety increases an individual’s propensity for addiction. Substance use in the presence of anxiety not only decreases symptoms of the condition, but also appears to “light up” pleasure and reward centers more than in people who do not suffer from anxiety. Roughly 20% of individuals with anxiety also have a substance abuse disorder.
Twenty-five percent of individuals who seek treatment for OCD also meet criteria for a substance use disorder. People with OCD know that their behavior is irrational, but they cannot control it. Substance use not only provides relief from the relentless obsessions of OCD, but often becomes a compulsion itself in people already prone to the development of compulsive behaviors.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is characterized by anxiety, depression, emotional duress, and physical pain. These symptoms occur in part as a result of the body ceasing to produce endorphins (the body’s natural pain killers and mood elevators) after a traumatic event. Drugs and alcohol can help to counteract endorphin withdrawal in the short term, but worsen it over the long term.
Bipolar Disorder and Depression
The link between bipolar disorder and addiction is very strong, with ~46% of those with bipolar disorder addicted to alcohol and 41% addicted to drugs at any given time. Bipolar disorder and depression are very similar disorders. Roughly 56% of depressed individuals struggle with a substance abuse disorder and a full third are addicted to alcohol. Alcohol abuse is particularly common in depression. Studies suggest that genetic factors may play a role in the link between depression and alcohol use.
To treat a dual diagnosis disorder, it is essential to address both the psychological condition and the addiction at the same time. Addressing only one is almost completely ineffective. They disorders are linked and may be better thought of as different aspects of the same, underlying condition. In most cases, medical, physiological, and behavioral treatments are necessary to overcome a dual diagnosis. Proper medical treatment can help to relieve the symptoms of the underlying psychological condition and also address withdrawal symptoms. Behavioral treatment will help to address reasons for addiction and give individuals the mental tools they require to deal with the symptoms of their addiction and their mental health condition.
Only about 7.5% of individuals with a dual diagnosis receive appropriate treatment. The most effective mechanism of addressing a dual diagnosis is an integrated program designed to treat the mental health condition and the substance abuse disorder. Such programs focus on motivation, counseling, and long-term support. They also offer the kind of aftercare services and management that are necessary to maintain abstinence and adherence to the medical regimen that sustains mental health.
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