Psychiatrist Blog

What is Dual Diagnosis and how is it treated?

The definition of a dual diagnosis is suffering from both a substance abuse disorder, such as with drugs or alcohol, as well as a mental health disorder like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. It has been found to be difficult to make a dual diagnosis as many substance abuse issues can be caused by mental health disorders and vice versa. For example, someone who suffers from depression or anxiety may use drugs or alcohol to cope with the symptoms that these can both cause. On the contrary, if someone is abusing a drug such a marijuana, this could potentially result in a psychotic episode causing them to have hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia. It is important to be able to recognize these co-occurring disorders as soon as possible, so that the patient receives the most appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 45 percent of people within the United States suffer with a dual diagnosis. Because of this statistic, it is imperative that patients seek the appropriate kind of treatment. It is most ideal for someone suffering from a dual diagnosis to enter a rehabilitation center, where the substance abuse as well as mental heal disorder can be addressed simultaneously. Within the rehab facility the patient would receive the help they need from multiple areas that include individual therapy, group therapy, activities, and medications. The facilities are set up in a way where the patient will gradually step down from levels of hands on treatment to allow them to gradually transition back into their daily life. 

Dealing with a dual diagnosis or having a loved one who is can be a very difficult process. As providers of Pacific Neuropsychiatric Specialists who specialize in treating patients with dual diagnosis, we encourage you to please reach out for any help you need or questions you may have!

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