Addiction is nothing new and is unlikely to disappear any time soon; the good news is that substance use disorder can be treated, and emerging treatments are becoming more effective all the time. Advancements in dual-diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders are blazing new trails in both addiction and mental health care.
Almost half of everyone who suffers from drug or alcohol use disorder also shows symptoms of other mental disorders. Have you ever suspected that an underlying mental condition may influence your battle with addiction? Or perhaps you see symptoms of co-occurring disorders in someone close to you? At Northpoint Seattle, we can help identify and treat co-occurring disorders.
What Does Dual Diagnosis Mean?
Dual diagnosis is the practice of comprehensively examining a patient to reveal multiple mental health disorders and substance use disorders. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), as many as 45% of all those who suffer from addiction also suffer mental illness, and some other research suggests that this percentage may be closer to 60%.
No matter the exact number, it is clear that many people have dual diagnoses and that the various conditions are closely linked. Years of research indicate a clear connection between addiction and mental illness, but no direct causality has yet been proved. Does addiction cause mental illness, or do mental conditions cause addiction? Although there is no concrete answer to this question, science suggests that both theories are correct.
While direct causality has not been proven between mental illness and addiction, it is evident that the two are closely intertwined and connected. For this reason, it is not ideal or effective to treat either condition on its own without taking into account the influence of other co-occurring conditions.
Why Are Co-Occurring Disorders Approached Differently?
Hundreds of studies and surveys have measured how successful different treatments are for co-occurring disorders. The results show that traditional drug rehab and treatment methods are less effective when alcohol or drug use disorder. Comorbid patients have higher rehab dropout rates and lower recovery rates than people who suffer from addiction alone.
This is partly because the side effects of mental health disorders can make recovery more demanding and because some withdrawal symptoms tend to be more severe for mentally ill patients. Traditional detox and rehab therapy will naturally fail when applied to these scenarios.
Another complication is that the vast majority of comorbidity cases have never been properly diagnosed. People who struggle with substance abuse (along with their family and friends) tend to blame their problems on addiction when mental health problems are the primary contributing factor. If a patient does not even know that they have a mental illness, they may not know to seek a dual diagnosis facility. For this reason, every patient seeking help for substance abuse should also be screened for mental conditions to apply the proper treatment plan.
For real progress with dual diagnosis patients, both co-occurring conditions should be treated concurrently in an integrated manner.
Most Common Mental Health Conditions
It would be unrealistic to list all the possible mental illnesses, but a few are more prevalent in the general population. A combination of the symptoms listed above could point to one of the following common mental health conditions:
- Anxiety disorder – overpowering stress and physical anxiety reactions to unreasonable stimuli
- Bipolar disorder – interchanging periods of excited, energetic mania and sudden changes to major depression and discouragement
- Depression or depressive disorder – long episodes of melancholy, fatigue, or hopelessness for two weeks or more
- Dysthymia – when major depressions last for two years or more
- Attention deficit disorders – a range of conditions characterized by a difficulty to concentrate, hyperactivity, and learning barriers
- Mania – a period of intense overexcitement, energy, and sometimes euphoria or irascibility
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder – uncontrollable fixations and impulses
- Post-traumatic stress disorder – stressful thoughts, memories, or flashbacks that develop after a traumatic event
- Seasonal affective disorder – depressed mood that strikes during the winter season
- Antisocial personality disorder – lack of empathy, respect, or concern for other people or other people’s rights and feelings
- Paranoid personality disorder – unusual or erratic ways of thinking, such as paranoia and distrust of other people
- Dissociative disorder – a disconnection between awareness, memory, perceptions, and reality
- Psychosis – distorted thinking patterns, such as hearing voices or hallucinations
- Schizophrenia – psychosis, as well as extreme paranoia and elaborate fantasies that are indistinguishable from reality
Finding Support for Co-Occurring Disorders at Northpoint Seattle
The time is now. Don’t waste any time if you suspect that you or someone you care about is suffering from comorbid addiction and mental illness. This dangerous combination of disorders will often feed off each other and compound quickly, sometimes disastrously. Especially if you’ve tried more traditional methods only to relapse or drop out of treatment, integrated dual diagnosis care may be the answer you’ve been searching for.
Don’t let co-occurring disorders plague you for another day. Make the call now to Northpoint Seattle at 425.414.3530; it can change the rest of your life.