A dual diagnosis is when a person has a substance use disorder (alcoholism or addiction) and a mental health disorder. A person with a dual diagnosis can have any combination of a mental health disorder and a substance use problem.
The majority of people who use drugs and drink alcohol have undiagnosed mental health issues. And similarly, most people with mental disorders also have substance use disorders. Dual-diagnosed people face the challenge that each condition can negatively affect the other.
More than one in four adults living with serious mental health problems also has a substance use problem. (NIMH)
What Types of Patients Are Eligible for Dual Diagnosis Programs?
People who suffer from a dual diagnosis include those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol and also have an emotional or mental health disorder that is either diagnosed or undiagnosed. Mental health problems can often lead people to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
In other cases, someone may abuse drugs and alcohol so much that their condition develops into a psychiatric disorder. Treatment programs for dual diagnosis are comprehensive, in-depth, and tailored to the individual. We provide evidence-based programs specific to the unique dual diagnosis, which include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Personality Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
How Does Dual Diagnosis Affect Treatment Outcomes?
Having a dual diagnosis is not necessarily worse than simply being an addict or alcoholic. The treatment that is provided will be targeted to the issues of both addiction and mental health disorders. For example, people who are diagnosed with PTSD and addiction or alcoholism will receive behavioral therapy and trauma therapy. They will also meet regularly with their counselor and psychiatrist to monitor the symptoms of PTSD that affect their recovery.
Some mental health diagnoses require medications, and people in the dual diagnosis program are given safe and effective medicines that do not compromise their abstinence or impair them.
Doctors support more dual-diagnosis patients of addiction and mental health disorders than themselves.
What Causes A Dual Diagnosis Mental Health Condition?
The research confirms that most people who struggle with substances are self-medicating. They are likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, trauma, or PTSD and most often have a history of adverse childhood experiences. The prevalence of adversity during formative years is pronounced in the substance abuse population.
Experts expect most addicts or alcoholics to have endured a difficult upbringing. According to the National Institutes of Health, adverse childhood experiences stem from hardships and trauma during childhood.
A substantial body of literature indicates that adolescents and adults who experience adverse events in childhood, such as abuse or neglect, are at increased risk of developing a wide range of enduring health problems. A strong association exists between negative childhood experiences and psychiatric illness, particularly depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Moreover, early childhood abuse is a significant risk factor for alcohol and drug abuse. (NIH, 2010)
Dual Diagnosis Treatment: What’s the Process?
Assisting individuals with dual diagnoses to recover from addictions and ensuring that those efforts are consistent with their mental health concerns is one of the objectives of this program. Using scientifically-based approaches, the dual diagnosis program combines therapy and addiction treatment.
As part of our recommended New Jersey addiction treatment approach, we use cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, pharmacotherapies, specialized small-group counseling, and one-on-one psychotherapy. Addiction recovery and mental health counselor facilitates all dual diagnosis groups.