What is Dual Diagnosis?

What is Dual Diagnosis And How to Get the Treatment You Need in New Britain CT

So, what is dual diagnosis? Well, when a person suffers from a mental disorder (like schizophrenia, depression or manic depression), and at the same time they suffer from an addiction or dependence problem to either alcohol or drugs, he or she has a condition known as "Co-Occuring Disorders" or - more commonly - have Dual Diagnosis.

In reality, no one is quite sure in which order the conditions present themselves; this means that, sometimes the mental problem can appear first - other times - the addiction or dependence can appear first and thus, leading to the emotional or mental health issue.

There are times when a person suffering from a mental disorder or from a severe depression, tries to find relief or "happiness" from the euphoric effects of a drug or alcohol. In the same way, if a person is aware they are fighting a substance abuse problem, they may feel hopeless and alone, leading to an unhealthy state of mind.

Other times, the substance abuse may come - wrongly - as a form or self-medication. The person may feel the need to relief or alleviate the symptoms caused by the undiagnosed or untreated mental issue, not knowing that the use of alcohol or drugs may worsen their symptoms, and will never treat the original condition.

While understanding what is dual diagnosis is fairly important, recognizing some of the dual diagnosis signs is key in helping someone find the ideal treatment. The main characteristic, of course, is the simultaneous presence of a mental health issue and a substance abuse problem.

But, in addition to that, some of the most notorious dual diagnosis signs are:

  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Lack of energy
  • Constant exhaustion
  • Body ache
  • Feelings of guilt or sorrow
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

When the dual diagnosis signs are more obvious due to the substance abuse, these may appear as:

  • Showing symptoms of withdrawal (heavy sweating, tremors, mood swings)
  • Engaging in risky behaviors or dangerous situations
  • Strong craving for a particular substance
  • Withdrawal from social situations

Treatment for dual diagnosis should be personalized to fit the patient's needs. This may call for a very specific treatment or for a combination of treatments to be able to target both the mental issue and the substance abuse.

There are three generally known methods for the co-occurring disorders. These approaches could be:

  • Sequential: the one most commonly used, involves treating one of the disorders first, and then treating the other one in a sequence, and may be handled by the same facility;
  • Parallel: it involves treating both conditions at the same time, but not necessarily in the same facility or by the same personnel;
  • Integrated: it involves receiving treatment specifically designed for co-occurring disorders, given by personnel trained in both mental health issues and substance abuse problems.

A drug or alcohol rehab center that also treats mental health problems (Integrated dual diagnosis treatment centers) is key for a good recovery process. An integrated clinic that offers treatment for dual diagnosis, will not only explain and help understand what is dual diagnosis to those supporting someone in recovery, but will assist in developing coping mechanisms and a strong backbone to prevent relapse.

A specialized center, will offer treatment for dual diagnosis by combining issues that would be - at first glance - unrelated. They will be able to teach a patient creating better and stronger relationships, avoiding bad or tricky situations and preventing engaging in activities that could trigger substance abuse.

In addition, this comprehensive type of treatment should include motivational groups and support, cultural sensitivity, and a follow-up program to help the recovering addict regain control of their life in a safe manner.

While receiving a dual diagnosis can be overwhelming - and even challenging for some people - it's good to know that you are not alone and that, contrary to popular belief, this type of medical diagnosis is not uncommon.


We can provide support in your search for the right treatment facility and rehabilitation program that best suits your needs. Call us right now at (860) 357-6096.






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