Drug addiction is challenging enough, but combine drug addiction with a mental disorder like anxiety and the challenge to function in life becomes extremely difficult. This is what dual diagnosis is and often the symptoms of mental illness show up first followed by drug use to self-medicate for those symptoms. When someone is experiencing anxiety attacks, they can take something like heroin or cocaine to relieve the pains of that anxiety.

A dual diagnosis has been cataloged as the combination of the addiction to an illegal drug and the following mental disorders:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood disorders (manic-depressive)
  • Personality disorders
  • Schizophrenia

The scary part about dual diagnosis is that there is a greater motive for using the drugs than just to have fun or because everyone else is doing it. Individuals diagnosed with a dual diagnosis have a genuine reason in their mind to use illegal drugs. From their perspective, they are relieving the psychological pain that comes with depression or mood disorders and drugs become their new coping mechanism for life. Then the cycle begins because now an addiction to the drugs has started so stopping the drugs intensifies the pain by combining withdrawal symptoms with the mental disorder. Going back to the drugs may relieve some of the pain, but with disorders like schizophrenia, drugs make the symptoms worse and bring the individual further from reality than ever before.

dual diagnosis

Combining drugs with a mental disorder can amplify the effects of that mental disorder, but stopping the use of the drugs after addiction has already started can also amplify the effects of the mental disorder, especially if that mental disorder is anxiety or depression. Withdrawal symptoms, depending on the drug used, already include anxiety, depression, and other symptoms like tremors and headaches. The user finds themselves stuck in a rut between two painful ways of living.

There are signs to look for when an individual is experiencing a dual diagnosis. Usually, the individual is unable to maintain a job, cannot remain in stable relationships, encounters various legal problems due to their actions, shows extreme mood swings, and has financial issues due to the amount of money being spent on drugs. Hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and depression all point to the possibility of having a dual diagnosis disorder. If the individual finds himself repeatedly relapsing and the symptoms only seem to be getting worse, it is highly advisable to seek treatment.

Dual diagnosis treatment involves a trained psychologist who can identify which mental disorder the patient has and treatment normally begins with detox. Although, treatment for dual diagnosis is complicated and the sequential treatment, which involved treating the addiction before the illness, showed less positive results and higher relapse rates. Now, dual diagnosis treatment usually involves treating both the mental disorder and addiction simultaneously. One could only imagine the difficulty of experiencing a mental disorder like depression that prevents one from wanting help and a drug addiction to opioids that only give a fleeting sense of relief from hopelessness. There are programs designed to treat this combination, however, and it is possible to live a happy life with the help of others.

Emotional support is the key to achieving the end goal of happiness and relief. Asana Recovery offers professional treatment for drug addictions with a supportive environment that provides various therapies to fit various needs. Call (949) 438-4504 to learn more about their treatment programs.