Dual Diagnosis and Its Effect On Recovery
Initially, the term dual diagnosis was used in the 1980s to describe people experiencing mental health and substance abuse disorders simultaneously. There is no standard definition, which can lead to confusion, especially for anyone exploring therapy options online. Dual diagnosis can be interchangeable with “co-occurring disorder” and “comorbidity.” The meaning for all three is the same and they refer to a person experiencing substance abuse disorder (SUD) who has coexisting mental or physical conditions.
A few common conditions seen in people diagnosed with substance abuse disorder include the following:
- Depression (e.g., major depression, atypical depression, seasonal affective disorder, etc.)
- Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Eating disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
Self-Medicating and Dual Diagnosis
It can be hard to deal with mental health problems on your own and some people self-medicate to cope with uncomfortable or painful symptoms instead of getting professional help. There are multiple reasons that people choose to self-medicate, including the following:
While self-medicating might feel like a solution, it often leads to reliance and substance abuse disorder over time. Complicating matters is the fact that many of the prescribed medications used to treat conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD can become addictive when used over a long period of time.
Long-Term Effects of Dual Diagnosis
There are long-term effects that can come into play with a dual diagnosis. Both disorders require individual treatments, which can lead to complications. The medications used will also determine what kind of impact it will have on your recovery. Recovery may be further hampered if the substance being abused was a medication originally prescribed to treat mental health symptoms. Fortunately, the medical community has made great strides in creating integrated treatment plans for co-occurring disorders. Despite the challenges, there is a high rate of continued sobriety for individuals with a dual diagnosis.