Mental illness can be overwhelming, not only for those affected but also for their loved ones. If coupled with substance abuse, it is even more challenging. When mental illness and substance abuse overlap, it comprises what mental health experts call a co-occurring disorder that is addressed through dual diagnosis treatment. But what is dual diagnosis, and how does it work? At the Georgia Addiction Treatment Center, our group of addiction specialists will be able to provide you with a diagnosis and provide therapy plans to get you on the path to recovery.
What Is Dual Diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is the term used to describe when two or more conditions affect you at the same time. You may hear the term often when it comes to addiction treatment, but it is a broader term. It applies to any and all kinds of physical conditions.
For instance, a person with heart disease and diabetes have a dual diagnosis. Medical professionals may use this term to diagnose two separate but equal illnesses. For people with addiction, physical and mental illnesses can both merit a dual diagnosis.
Some of the physical problems that occur with substance abuse include:
- AIDS infection
- Hepatitis B infections
- Heart disease
- Lung scarring
- Chronic constipation
- Mental illness
All these are separate physical problems that may also occur alongside drug abuse. As such, they may fall under dual diagnosis. So what is dual diagnosis? It involves having to deal with more than just addiction.
Dual Diagnosis vs. Co-Occurring Diseases – Is There a Difference?
As you may know by now, dual diagnosis is a general term, which means it might not include substance abuse. Today, however, people more often use it to describe those with addiction and mental illness.
On the other hand, co-occurring diseases refer to the illnesses that usually occur alongside alcohol addiction or drug abuse. It is almost exclusively used to refer to a person with mental illness, which contributes to, or is a result of substance abuse.
Symptoms of a co-occurring disorder may include:
- Sudden behavioral change
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Tolerance to the substance’s impact
- Using substances even under dangerous situations
- Showing withdrawal symptom
- Need to use substances to handle everyday life
- Inability to curb substance abuse
The worse symptom of a co-occurring disorder is the risk behaviors caused by addiction. These behaviors include dangerous sexual relations, which may lead to even more complications.
Co-Occurring Disorders and Addiction
Mental illness can be the direct result of the abuse of drugs and alcohol. In such cases, substance use is a way to control symptoms. It becomes the only way they can handle the difficulties of dealing with a mental problem.
It is important to realize that addiction itself is considered an illness. After all, substances cause a change in the structure and function of the brain. These changes occur in areas that are also affected by depression, anxiety, and similar mental disorders.
Characterized by uncontrollable and compulsive cravings, addiction has devastating consequences. When you become addicted to drugs or alcohol, you begin to rely on these substances to function daily.
One of the theories is that drugs and alcohol are a form of self-medication. With the struggles of mental illness, people with this condition try to self-medicate by using drugs or alcohol. But as you know, alcohol and drugs can be extremely addictive.
Receive Your Dual Diagnosis at Georgia Addiction Treatment Center
You can call it a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Correct diagnosis and treatment are more important than answering the question, ‘what is dual diagnosis?’ With proper dual diagnosis treatment, you have the greatest chance at recovery.
At the Georgia Addiction Treatment Center, you can take advantage of addiction treatment therapies and the highest quality of care. If you are struggling with co-occurring disorders or want to know more about ‘what is dual diagnosis,’ call our team of experts at 833.641.0661. So take that first step toward your recovery and better health at Georgia Addiction Treatment Center today!