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It’s a sad fact that mental disorders are frequently associated with drug addiction, and dual diagnosis treatment centers exist precisely for this reason. This isn’t to say that mentally unstable people are more likely to use drugs, but certain disorders can lead people to seek the physical and mental effects only certain drugs can provide. A depressive person, for example, may become addicted to the mood-lifting high of cannabis, or a person suffering from bipolar may seek the increased focus provided by a stimulant.

A case of dual diagnosis is never easy, as it takes time to discern whether a drug addiction is causing the damaged mental state, or whether a mental disorder has encouraged substance abuse. Dual diagnosis treatment usually involves an extended stay as an inpatient, which begins with the difficult process of drug detoxification. Following a successful detox, the individual receives expert medical care and supervision as their body readjusts to normal. At this stage, psychological counselling can begin and a professional assessment will be conducted. Dual diagnosis can be dealt with effectively, giving recovering addicts a new lease on life.

The potential dangers of dual diagnosis

Psychologists sometimes find it difficult to make a distinction between addiction and a mental illness; in fact, some rehabilitation experts say that it is very rare for a patient to be admitted with a substance problem without having a secondary mental health problem. Substance abuse can become compounded by an underlying mental disorder, meaning that the individual may feel even less in control once given a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis treatment centers need to be careful to provide appropriate detoxification and psychiatric – or psychological – support for their patients as a dual diagnosis can feel insurmountable to certain individuals.

Suffering from a mental disorder

The main reason struggling addicts refuse to seek treatment is denial; be it about their mental state or their substance abuse. Admitting to having a problem is one of the more difficult things an individual can do, but it is a crucial step towards recovery. An individual suffering with an unbalanced mental state, due either to substance abuse or a mental disorder, will usually be reluctant to seek help as they may be paranoid, or even unaware that their problems can be treated.

There is always a way to recover and move ahead with a positive, happy life, and so if you or a loved one have been dealing with a mental disorder, a substance abuse problem, or both, do not hesitate to seek treatment. Many people are unaware that their substance addiction can be lessened by treating their mental state.

Treating dual diagnosis

Dual diagnosis treatment does not view a mental disorder and a substance abuse problem as two separate entities: they are complex reactions to circumstances which may be out of an individual’s control. Not all mental disorders are easily diagnosable, and in fact a number of people will suffer for a long period of time before realizing they have a problem.

Similarly, some people may not realize their substance abuse is being worsened or made more complicated by an underlying mental condition. Dual diagnosis treatment synthesizes drug rehabilitation with psychiatric evaluation and care, which can change somebody’s life for the better. In some cases, individuals seek treatment only for substance abuse and discover an underlying mental disorder which may explain their behavior.

Read more about dual diagnosis for additional information and how you can get the help you or your loved one need.