Substance Abuse and Psychiatric Disorders

Dual Diagnosis: Substance Abuse and Psychiatric Disorders


What does dual diagnosis mean in regards to addiction? Dual diagnosis is a term used when a person has both a behavioral or mental health disorder and substance abuse problems. Dual diagnosis is also commonly referred to as co-occurring disorders or comorbidity.


Do Withdrawal Symptoms Mean You Are Addicted?

Dual diagnosis is a broad term; the severity of the mental illness can vary. The mental illness can be someone suffering from mild depression to someone with bipolar disorder. A person who has dual diagnosis is suffering from two separate illnesses. Both illnesses need to be treated separately in order for the individual to recover.


Types of Psychiatric Disorders Commonly Associated with Addiction


Individuals who seek treatment for substance abuse and psychiatric disorders may be diagnosed with a mood disorder, anxiety disorder, personality disorder or an eating disorder. Each of these mental illnesses coupled with addiction will require dual diagnosis treatment. Here are some of the most common mental illnesses often found in individuals struggling with addiction.

Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety disorder categorized by feelings of overwhelming worry, tension and nervousness. While worrying is a common emotion felt by all people from time to time, the worrying involved in GAD is excessive, intrusive, persistent and debilitating. The most common treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder is counseling and medications.

Some Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
– Inability to relax
– Difficulty concentrating
– Putting things off due to feeling overwhelmed
– Avoiding situations that make you feel anxious
– Feeling tense, having muscle tightness or body aches
– Difficult falling or staying asleep due to racing thoughts
– Feeling restless and irritable
– Gastrointestinal issues: nausea and diarrhea
– Overwhelming feeling of apprehension or dread
– Intrusive anxiety driven thoughts

Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is characterized by repeated panic attacks combined with significant changes in behavior or anxiety surrounding future attacks. For someone with panic disorder, the panic attacks may only last a couple minutes but the aftermath takes an emotional toll. People with panic disorder are often consumed with anxiety surrounding future attacks, this leads to decrease in self-confidence and avoidant behavior.

Some Symptoms of Panic Disorder:
– Frequent and unexpected panic attacks for no apparent reason
– Worrying and anxiety surrounding potential future panic attacks
– Changes in behavior, avoiding situations where panic attacks occurred or when they may occur
– Anxiety and tension in between panic attacks

Social Anxiety Disorder: Social Anxiety Disorder is categorized by an extreme fear of being judged and scrutinized by others in social performance or social situations. The symptoms are often so severe that it disrupts the individuals everyday functioning. People with this disorder often refrain from social situations and personal relationships. This often causes an inability to form relationships, maintain employment and attend school. The most common treatment for social anxiety disorder is therapy and medication.

Some Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder:
– Profuse sweating
– Excessive blushing
– Trembling
– Nausea and abdominal distress
– Rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath
– Dizziness or lightheadedness
– Feelings of detachment
– Avoiding social situations
– Refraining from developing personal relationships

Personality Disorders

Borderline personality disorder: Borderline personality disorder is a mental disorder characterized by unstable mood, behavior and relationships. People with borderline personality disorder often have problems regulating thoughts or emotions, engage in impulsive and reckless behavior and have unstable relationships with others.

Some Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder:
– Extreme reactions: panic, depression and rage
– Difficulty maintaining relationships, often fluctuating from idealization to devaluation
– Distorted self-image
– Impulsive and dangerous behaviors
– Suicidal behaviors and self-harm
– Stress-related paranoid thoughts
– Dramatic fluctuations in mood
– Persistent feelings of emptiness or boredom
– Displaced anger and difficulty controlling anger


The Importance of Treatment


Treating both mental illness and addiction at the same time is important. Addressing the mental illness will allow the individual to overcome negative side effects of their mental illness that would impede upon their addiction recovery. Medication therapy will be more effective once the individual has completed the detox process. Group therapy provides the necessary support for the individual to overcome the struggles associated with their mental illness and their addiction. By addressing both mental illness and addiction at the same time, the individual will be able to identify their unique triggers such as depression, anxiety or panic attacks. In order for a dual diagnosis individual to recovery, both the mental illness and addiction should be addressed separately yet simultaneously.


Concerned About Yourself or a Loved One?


Dual diagnosis is common. Both mental illness and addiction are serious issues and with the right help, emotional and physical recovery from both mental illness and addiction is possible. If you or someone you love needs help, please do not hesitate to give us a call and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Please call (877)799-1985 or simply click the link below.


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Substance Abuse and Psychiatric Disorders