If you believe that you may have a mental illness in addition to a substance abuse problem, you may be suffering from a dual-diagnosis. Some additional signs are increasing problems at work, school and home, difficulty in maintaining relationships, increased dependence on drugs or alcohol and changes in your mood or way of thinking. If you feel as if your life is spiralling out of control and you suspect that you may have a dual-diagnosis, there are treatment options available.
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Dual-diagnosis is a disorder characterized by the presence of both a mental disorder and a substance abuse problem. Dual-diagnosis is actually quite common, although it can be tricky to distinguish whether or not there was mental illness present prior to the drug or alcohol abuse. Substance abuse is more common among those who suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and personality disorders than those who do not. According to the United States National Institute on Drug Abuse, 60% of substance abusers have a comorbid mental illness. In many instances, the mental illness occurs first, which subsequently leads to substance abuse to self-medicate and temporarily feel better. At other times, the substance abuse occurs first and can lead to mental problems over time. In the case of dual-diagnosis, it is critical to treat both the mental illness and the substance abuse.
Treatment of Dual-Diagnosis
There are many options for the treatment of dual-diagnosis, including hospitalization, hospital visits and outpatient treatment (home care). In severe cases, hospitalization or admission to a treatment facility may be the only option. Treatment can be difficult as substance abuse and withdrawal can either hide or trigger psychiatric symptoms. Deciding on the best treatment plan may not be easy due to the difficulty of diagnosis. In some cases, a doctor may choose to prescribe medications in order to treat the mental illness, but this must be done with great care, as some of these medications can be addictive. Treatment facilities often offer programs that last 30 to 90 days, but some programs can last up to a year. Long-term treatment seems to have the best results for those with dual-diagnosis, and combined treatment for both the mental illness and substance abuse is best. Relapses are quite common, but are considered part of the recovery process. Medical treatment, support groups and the support of family and friends are all integral parts of recovery.
Post-Rehabilitation of Dual-Diagnosis
Some important aspects to consider for post-rehabilitation are stress management, support groups, regular doctor's visits, listening to your doctor's advice, maintaining a connection with family and friends and removing yourself from situations/places/people that can be triggers. Adopting a healthy lifestyle in all areas of your life is also highly recommended - exercise and eating a healthy diet can have a positive impact not only on your physical health, but also your mental health. Practicing relaxation techniques and being well-rested can also help you maintain a positive emotional state. Most importantly, if you feel as if you are struggling, be sure to reach out to someone for help right away. Knowing that help is there when you need it can really bring you peace of mind and help keep you on your path to recovery.
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