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Dual Diagnosis

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual Diagnosis is a term defining the simultaneous occurrence of both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder being experienced by an individual. A Dual diagnosis can also be referred to as a co-occurring disorder or co-morbidity.

Mental illness and substance abuse are closely linked. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that 45 percent of people struggling with addiction also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. In addition, individuals diagnosed with a mental health condition are about two times (2x) more likely to also suffer from a substance use disorder.

Mental Health Disorders Linked to Substance Abuse Include:

  • Attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)

  • Bipolar Disorder

  • Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Depression

  • Eating Disorders

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Schizophrenia

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Specialists in Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

In co-occurring cases, the mental health disorder tends to be the underlying problem while substance abuse manifests itself as a symptom of that problem. That’s why our team at SOBA New Jersey knows that treatment of both mental health and substance abuse disorders is critical to a client’s successful recovery.

Suggested Reading: Addiction and Mental Health: How do They Go Hand in Hand?

A dual diagnosis requires specific treatment outside the realms of traditional addiction treatment centers. The team at SOBA New Jersey is uniquely qualified to treat co-occurring disorders. We are experts in understanding the specific psychological problems and addictive behaviors our clients exhibit and it is with this understanding that we can properly treat both disorders extensively to facilitate a full, comprehensive recovery.

Assessing Individuals With A Dual Diagnosis

Individuals that enter our treatment program undergo thorough assessments and evaluations. This allows our team to see exactly what their treatment plan will require. It also highlights any co-occurring issues that our treatment plan will need to address. Our team repeats these assessments at specific checkpoints throughout treatment to continually monitor for underlying mental health disorders. Our evaluation process makes sure every client receives the care required.

How Do I Get Started?

Talk to an Admissions Coordinator to get started. One of our experts will evaluate your situation, verify your insurance, answer all of your questions, and help you take the first steps.

The Connection Between Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Those who suffer from mental illness are more likely to abuse substances, and those that abuse substances are more likely to have a mental illness.

This recursive loop makes recovery exceedingly difficult. Which is why a dual diagnosis program is so important. We treat both the addiction and it’s underlying causes, eliminating the root problem and providing a more successful recovery.

Further Reading: What’s the Difference Between Mental Illness and Mental Disorder?


Mental Illness Can Fuel Addiction Via Prescription Drugs

Drugs are commonly prescribed as a means of treating mental illness. Abuse of prescription drugs is the number one gateway to substance abuse.

Prescription drugs like Ritalin and Adderall can be addictive. Increased access to these on account of them being prescribed to those with mental illness further increases the likelihood of their abuse and then the abuse of other substances.

Those with mental illness start with multiple factors that act to their detriment in terms of avoiding the pitfall of substance abuse. Mental illness also has large indirect repercussions that can lead sufferers down the path of substance abuse.

The disadvantages inherent to mental illness can, in many cases, limit the academic and career success of those afflicted. Perceived failures and real suffering can lead to substance abuse being seen as an avenue to escape.

It is common for those who feel despair at their state to abuse substances as a means of coping and as an outlet. It is because of this that those who suffer from mental illness are doubly vulnerable to substance abuse.

Drug Addiction Treatment & Mental Health

Mental health and substance abuse treatment is almost always necessary to escape from the cycle of self-destructive behavior. However, it is exceedingly difficult for this process to occur without the individual that is suffering from these issues personally deciding to seek help. While interventions from friends and family can be helpful, unless the individual wants to be treated, external influence will have only limited effect.

Self-treatment and entirely autonomous recovery are possible. However, its exceedingly difficult and has a little material benefit over seeking professional help. If at all possible, it is preferable to encourage and convince those suffering from substance abuse to seek professional help and drug rehabilitation for their own benefit.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Substance abuse can also occur as a result of attempts by those suffering from mental illness to self medicate. This can occur in two forms, either in the abuse of prescription drugs or in the usage of illicit substances in an attempt to self medicate. Abuse of prescription drugs can often be more deadly than that of illicit drugs, due to the common prescription of opioids and anti-psychotics. These forms of drugs have an enormous potential for overdose when not taken as prescribed.

A proactive and preventative approach functions as the most effective means of mitigating and reversing the damage of both mental illness and substance abuse. Mental illness is sometimes rooted in depression. There are effective therapies that treat mental health and substance abuse. Outreach to those affected by these issues is the single most effective way to prevent the worsening of these issues and facilitate the recovery of those worst affected.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

It is because of these numerous, direct and indirect, connections between substance abuse and mental illness that both issues must addressed in parallel. Only a simultaneous effort to aid those who suffer from mental illness, those who suffer from substance abuse, and those who suffer from both can effectively resolve the matter. The connection between mental illness and substance abuse is indubitable and makes both all the more dangerous. At SOBA New Jersey, we believe strongly in the connection to substance abuse and mental health. Our dual diagnosis program treats these occurring disorders concurrently.

Dual Diagnosis and co-occurring disorder infographic

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