Dual Diagnosis

In many cases, certain conditions of people could push them to do certain behaviors that could also posses a problematic effect onto them most especially with their health. There are instances where a certain drug addiction can be a resulting factor of a certain psychiatric disorder. A person afflicted with an anxiety disorder could also become addicted to oxycontin, which can give anyone the feeling of relaxation. Make sense?

The term dual diagnosis is defined as the co-occurrence of a mental illness and substance-abuse problem in a person. Individuals who experience a dual diagnosis often face a wide range of psychosocial issues and may experience multiple interacting illnesses. With dual diagnosis, both illnesses may affect the person physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. Not only is the individual affected by two separate illnesses, both illnesses interact with one another. The illnesses may intensify each other and each disorder predisposes to relapse in the other disease. There are times where the symptoms can go beyond and even mask each other making diagnosis and treatment very hard.

There are a number of findings that is discovered to clarify relationships . For one, the causality theory suggests that certain kinds of substance abuse can causally lead to mental illness. Upon studying the causes of schizophrenia, it has been found that cannabis usage could causally develop schizophrenia. Moreover, the self-medication theory suggests that people with severe mental illness misuse substances in order to reduce a certain set of symptoms and counter the side-effects of antipsychotic medication. Certain studies illustrate that nicotine could be effective for decreasing motor side-effects of antipsychotics. Similarly, the alleviation of dysphoria theory suggests that individuals with severe mental illness commonly feels bad about themselves and that this makes them vulnerable to using psychoactive substances to alleviate these feelings.

The problem with dual diagnosis is that most often, only one of the two interacting illnesses is identified. Furthermore, the patient tends to be in denial with one of the illnesses. A person diagnosed with a mental disorder may be in denial about the drinking or substance abuse. The other way around could happen. The obvious substance abuse could hide the mental disorder. Therapists, psychiatrists, and professional counselors can have a hard time identifying both illnesses because psychiatric symptoms may be masked by alcohol or drug use. Furthermore, alcohol or drug use, or withdrawal from alcohol or other drugs can imitate or give the manifestation of some psychiatric illnesses. Also, untreated chemical addiction could contribute to a reoccurrence of psychiatric symptoms, and untreated psychiatric illness could contribute to an alcohol or drug relapse.

According to one alcoholic, specifically in America, the problem is that society- including the medical community and criminal justice system- do not accept and treat alcoholism as a real illness. Moreover, it looks like that they do not realize how ineffective it is to treat one illness but not the other. Medical professionals have the tendency to prescribe antidepressants to their patients without screening them for substance abuse. The addict/alcoholic whose depression is not cured will persist to fail at the attempt to get clean and sober. Those with depression whose substance abuse is not detected will get sicker because alcohol is a depressant and with every sip they are throwing gasoline on their simmering bipolar. Consequently, it is very hard for these people to come across appropriate treatment. Most substance-abuse centers do not accept people with serious psychiatric disorders and many psychiatric centers do not have the expertise with substance abuse.

Integration is the key to treat two disorders where collaborative decision-making procedure should happen between the therapy group and the patient.

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