As time passes more people understand the importance of dual diagnosis treatment. Addiction and mental illness are both challenging to deal with on their own. When you combine a mental illness with a substance abuse problem, though, the difficulty multiplies. Thankfully, some treatment centers offer programs specifically for these individuals.

These treatment facilities understand how substance abuse and mental illness interact. Treating someone with dual diagnosis (also called co-occurring disorders) isn’t like treating someone with only one condition or the other. The combination of the two conditions better results from certain specific approaches to treatment.

10 Important Reasons for Dual Diagnosis Treatment

1. There are more people with dual diagnosis than you might think.

44.7 million adults in the United States live with some type of mental illness. 19 million have a substance use disorder. Of these 63.7 million people, 8.2 million have both a mental illness and a substance use disorder, or dual diagnosis. In other words, more than 40 percent of people with a drug or alcohol problem also have a mental disorder.

Signs & symptoms of substance use disorder

2. Sometimes substance abuse looks like a mental illness.

The side effects or results of substance abuse often look like symptoms of mental illness. Nearly every person in early recovery deals with residual anxiety and depression. Some experience schizophrenic-like hallucinations or delusions. It’s difficult to tell whether the symptoms are from drug withdrawals or mental illness until all the substances first clear from a person’s system. They might see any signs of mental illness clear once the drugs are gone.

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3. Most people with co-occurring disorders receive treatment for one disorder or the other but not both.

Only 7.4 percent of those with dual diagnosis receive the proper treatment for both parts of their condition. Some receive treatment for their mental health and others for their substance use. Not nearly enough people received specialized care for both the substance abuse and mental health aspects of their co-occurring disorder.

Statistic of proper treatment for dual diagnosis

4. There are many different kinds of conditions that qualify someone for dual diagnosis.

Co-occurring disorders don’t describe only a single type of mental illness or addiction. Many conditions qualify a person as having dual diagnosis. They might deal with an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or sex. Their mental illness could be anything from anxiety or depression to full-blown schizophrenia. They aren’t a one-size-fits-all type of disorder.

5. Those with co-occurring disorders are trapped in a vicious cycle.

Addiction alone is a vicious cycle. When you include a mental illness in the mix the problem multiplies tenfold. Many people with a co-occurring disorder turned to drugs or alcohol to help them cope with the effects of their mental illness. The substances helped them deal with either the side effects of their disorder or the medication used to treat it.

Although it seems like the substances help them handle the side effects, in reality they make the effects worse. They exaggerate the symptoms of their mental illness which leads to more substance use. Soon they’re trapped in a downward cycle of drug use and mental illness which often requires treatment to interrupt.

6. Children who don’t receive treatment for a childhood mental health issue often grow up to develop substance dependence issues.

Again, people with dual diagnosis often find themselves with the condition as a result of trying to self-medicate. Children who do not receive treatment for mental illnesses or disorders have a greater risk of turning to substances to manage symptoms as they grow older. By offering treatment when they’re young, their chance of developing a worsening disorder decreases.

7. People with a co-occurring disorder diagnosis are incredibly high-risk individuals.

Mental illness and addiction put people at a high risk on their own. Combining the two puts them at even higher risk of risky or dangerous behavior, or even suicidal ideation. These individuals need specialized treatment as soon as possible in order to have the best chance at recovery.

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8. Co-occurring disorders benefit most from a specialized approach to

Again, the side effects of substance abuse often look like a mental illness. Once the drugs leave someone’s system and the symptoms of mental illness are still present, then doctors better understand what they’re dealing with. They first need to work with the person’s substance abuse before they can make an impact on their mental illness. This specialized approach is best handled in a dual diagnosis-specific facility.

9. Dual diagnosis often takes longer to treat than treating someone with only one condition.

Since people with co-occurring disorders have two different issues, treatment often takes longer. Doctors and psychiatrists first handle the substance abuse before turning to the mental illness. Regular treatment centers usually don’t offer the additional care and time needed for those with dual diagnosis. Specialized facilities understand the need for well-rounded, in-depth treatment of individuals with co-occurring disorders.

In-depth treatment of dual diagnosis

10. It’s best to seek treatment for dual diagnosis sooner rather than later.

The sooner someone with dual diagnosis seeks treatment the better. They are high-risk individuals that often find themselves trapped in their patterns of behavior. Treatment provides the support they need to handle both their substance abuse and their mental illness before it’s too late.

Do you know someone who lives with a co-occurring disorder? Hawaii Island Recovery is a facility that understands the importance of specialized dual diagnosis treatment. We offer both tried and tested methods of therapy alongside holistic approaches to treatment in order to create a specific path to recovery for each individual. Call our admissions office at 877-721-3556 to learn more about our program today!