The U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that almost 8 million adults have both a mental illness and a co-occurring substance abuse problem. This “Dual Diagnosis” describes a complex relationship where those with mental health issues also have a problem with substance abuse, and likewise, those with a substance abuse problem who also have a psychiatric disorder. Dual diagnosis requires a mental health practitioner experienced in the complex and often complicated treatment strategy.
Confusing Symptoms with Dual or Co-Occurring Disorders
It can be difficult to diagnose a psychiatric illness in those who are substance abusers because it is common for drug abusers to exhibit psychiatric symptoms. The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports that psychiatric disorders induced by substance abuse can continue to impact a person’s life long after the drug or alcohol abuse has been curtailed.
Substance abuse can trigger panic attacks, depression, severe anxiety, delusional thoughts, personality disorder, and even psychotic behavior, all of which may continue to plague a person long after detoxification. Proper dual diagnosis is critical in establishing a successful treatment plan.
Dual Diagnosis Requires Specific Treatment Planning
Dual diagnosis needs a specially designed treatment plan, as dual disorders also come with an increased severity of medical, social and emotional issues. Dual disorders alone increases the chance of relapse as well as the psychiatric disorder becoming more pronounced in daily life functions. In addition, those with a dual diagnosis generally require a longer period of treatment with more gradual evidence of progress seen over time.
Complex Challenges of Dual Diagnosis
Dual diagnosis typically come with an increased rate of relapse, hospitalization, and homelessness, not to mention an increased chance of developing HIV or Hepatitis C infections due to risk-taking behaviors. The combinations of mental health disorders and forms of substance abuse that can be diagnosed show great variability, and thus each person with a co-occurring diagnosis does need their complex treatment plan uniquely constructed.
Severity of Disorders Change Over Time
Being followed and managed by a competent dual diagnosis psychiatrist is a priority for treatment plan success. Either diagnosis, whether of a mental illness disorder or substance abuse, may be evaluated as one or the other being severe or mild, or both severe — or by the degree of impairment they bring to daily life functions. The severity levels and impact change over time with the treatment plan modified to properly meet changing needs as they occur.
Atlanta Dual Diagnosis Psychiatrist
Dr. Darvin Hege is the Atlanta dual diagnosis psychiatrist of choice and expert in the field. Call the office for an appointment to start getting your life back under control.