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Defining the Characteristics of a Dual Diagnosis Patient

It has long been known that there is a relationship between mental illness and substance abuse. Substance abuse disorders are even categorized as a group of mental illnesses. However, it is only recently that the two have begun to be treated together, thanks to the advent of dual diagnosis.

A person who has a dual diagnosis needs to find treatment for both disorders in order to find relief without relapse, but what determines dual diagnosis?

What Is Dual Diagnosis, and What Are Its Symptoms?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, dual diagnosis refers to the simultaneous combination of a substance abuse disorder and a mental illness. This is a very common problem that occurs in patients treated for mental illnesses, as well as those who are seeking substance abuse treatment.

The only way to truly determine whether or not someone fits the criteria for dual diagnosis is through a number of psychiatric and medical assessments. These medical assessments are conducted when a person goes to drug treatment. The common symptoms include:

Dual Diagnosis Patient

A dual diagnosis patient will likely withdraw from loved ones and activities they used to enjoy.

  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Frequent inebriation to feel “normal”
  • Extreme and abrupt changes in personality
  • Withdrawal symptoms when stopping the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Engagement in risky behaviors while drunk or high
  • Confusion and the inability to concentrate
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and pleasurable activities

All of these symptoms may indicate a dual diagnosis. However, it should be noted that the signs of various mental illnesses vary widely and can be hidden. If any of these characteristics sounds like you and you feel you would benefit from inpatient treatment, call us at InpatientDrugRehabCenters.com at 800-430-1407Who Answers?; we can help.

Common Substances Abused by Dual Diagnosis Patients

There is no substance of abuse that is exempt from being used by dual diagnosis patients. Some of the most common include:

  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine, often in the form of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco
  • Marijuana
  • Opiates and opioid pain relievers
  • Hallucinogens, such as LSD
  • Dissociative drugs, such as ketamine
  • Methamphetamines

While these are common in dual diagnosis patients, they are not the only substances abused by them.

Common Mental Illnesses in Dual Diagnosis Patients

Nearly all mental illnesses have some risk of co-occurring with a substance abuse disorder. According to the National Library of Medicine, the most common are:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Personality disorders
  • Schizophrenia

Again, these are not the only mental illnesses that may be involved in a dual diagnosis, merely the most commonly reported.

It can be difficult to find a treatment center versed in dual diagnosis treatment. Many only treat substance abuse or mental illness, though this is changing and it is now possible to find treatment centers that specialize in treating both substance abuse and the underlying mental illness.

How Inpatient Drug Treatment Centers Treat Dual Diagnosis

Does Substance Abuse Cause Mental Illness or Vice Versa?

The short answer to this question is “both.” There is evidence to suggest that people with a predisposition for mental illness may begin to exhibit symptoms of that mental illness after abusing drugs or alcohol. There is even information involving people with established mental illnesses developing a substance use problem in an effort to alleviate or cope with their symptoms.

Also, the damage to the brain caused by some drugs may cause mental illness, even if there is no genetic predisposition. One example of this is the long term abuse of opiates, which has been shown to cause clinical depression and anxiety disorders.

How to Find Treatment for a Dual Diagnosis

If you are suffering from mental illness and substance abuse, you don’t have to. There are a number of inpatient treatment options available that address both the mental illness and substance abuse. Call 800-430-1407Who Answers? today, and let us assist you in getting the help that you need to get your life back under control.

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By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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