Many individuals that suffer from substance use disorders also suffer from mental health disorders. In fact, the occurrence of a mental health disorder in a person is often the catalyst that triggers the occurrence of substance addiction in that same individual. Substance use disorders can also trigger mental health disorders within an individual due to the changes that substances can cause to the brain. 

As a result, many people suffer from substance abuse and mental health disorders simultaneously. When individuals suffer from substance abuse and mental health disorders simultaneously, they need to treat those disorders simultaneously through co-occurring treatment centers. Another term for the treatment of co-occurring disorders is dual diagnosis treatment. 

What is a Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorder, is two types of disorders that occur simultaneously within an individual. When discussing dual diagnoses in this article, we are discussing co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. 

Signs and Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis

There are many signs and symptoms of dual diagnosis. One should always receive an official diagnosis of a co-occurring disorder from an addiction specialist. Until then though, it’s always good to be aware of the signs and symptoms of co-occurring disorders. That way, you know whether or not it’s even worth it to see an addiction specialist and receive treatment for dual diagnosis. 

Common signs and symptoms of co-occurring disorders include:

  • Suddenly exhibiting poor performance in school and work
  • Lying and stealing
  • Engaging in risky and harmful behaviors
  • Excessive daytime sleeping 
  • Struggles to sleep at night
  • Trying to stop using substances but not being able to
  • Increase drug tolerance
  • Isolating oneself from others
  • Experiencing hallucinations or delusions
  • Continued feelings of despair, hopelessness, or worthlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Using substances to cope with stress

What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Co-occurring treatment centers, otherwise known as co-occurring disorders treatment programs, are rehab programs with different forms of therapy that help simultaneously treat substance abuse and mental health disorders. A Dual diagnosis program is made out of various different forms of therapies that help with addiction and mental health treatment. Individuals with dual diagnoses attend all of their therapies within the same time frame. 

Statistics on Co-Occurring Treatment Centers and Dual Diagnosis Treatment

A dual diagnosis that consists of substance use and mental illness is very common. As a result, as many as 9.5 million American adults simultaneously suffered from substance use and mental illness in 2019. Furthermore, about 20% of Americans with either depression or anxiety  simultaneously suffer from substance use disorders.  

How Do Co-Occurring Disorders Develop?

Co-occurring disorders usually develop because a person first has either a substance use or mental health disorder. Such disorders then trigger another type of disorder. For example, individuals with mental health disorders often abuse substances to cope with their symptoms. As a result, many of those people develop substance addictions that then co-occur with their mental illnesses. 

Suffering from substance addictions can also cause individuals to develop a co-occurring mental illness. This is because chronic substance abuse usually causes changes in the chemistry of people’s brains. These chemical brain changes then often trigger mental illness symptoms in individuals. Thus, many people with substance addictions soon develop co-occurring mental illnesses. 

Regardless of which type of disorder a person with a dual diagnosis develops first, once an individual does develop a dual diagnosis disorder, they need to attend a dual diagnosis program. Individuals can receive dual diagnosis treatment, otherwise known as co-occurring disorders treatment, at a facility such as BRC Healthcare

What’s the Importance of Co-Occurring Treatment Centers?

It’s essential for treatment facilities to offer a dual diagnosis program. This is because co-occurring disorders act as catalysts for the appearance of one another. Thus, a person that suffers from a dual diagnosis tries to treat their co-occurring substance use and mental health condition individually. The type of disorder that isn’t treated first will trigger the re-occurrence of the type of disorder that is treated first. 

For example, if a person with a co-occurring substance use and mental illness tries to first individually treat the substance use disorder, the lingering mental health disorder will cause the person to feel the need to use drugs or alcohol again to cope. Using substances to cope with a lingering mental health condition from a co-occurring disorder will likely cause that person to re-develop their substance use disorder. 

In fact, trying to treat a substance use disorder without treating its co-occurring mental illness often causes the substance use issues to reappear in a stronger fashion. This is because the person’s tolerance has likely lowered. This, in turn, caused the amount of substances that the person was previously taking to be too much for their recently recovered body’s system. 

In fact, using drugs or alcohol again after one’s tolerance has lowered can even cause a person to experience a drug overdose and death. Preventing this from occurring is just one of the many reasons why dual diagnosis treatment is so vital. 

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

There are numerous combinations of substance use and mental illnesses that can occur simultaneously. This, in turn, creates a dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorder. Some of the more common forms of co-occurring substance use and mental health treatment are described below.

Depression and Addiction

People that suffer from depression very commonly suffer from substance use disorders as well. This is because many people with depression abuse substances to cope. This, in turn, causes many people with depression to develop simultaneous substance use disorders. 

Both depression and addiction also often involve imbalances in people’s brain chemistry, family history with substance abuse and depression, and past trauma. Common substances that people with depression often abuse include alcohol, heroin, and even prescription depression medications. 

Anxiety and Addiction

It’s very common for people that suffer from anxiety to use substances to cope. Thus, it’s no surprise that anxiety and substance addictions are very common co-occurring disorders. 

Substance abuse often causes chemical changes to the brain that triggers people to feel anxiety. This contributes to the high rates of anxiety and substance addiction dual diagnosis disorders. 

Many people that suffer from anxiety simultaneously struggle with addictions to stimulants. For example, many people that suffer from anxiety also struggle with cocaine addictions. This is because, initially, cocaine use can ease a person’s anxiety and cause a person to feel more confident. Over time though, abusing stimulants such as cocaine causes anxiety to worsen. 

Anxiety also often co-occurs with substance addictions to different depressants. This is because some people may choose to cope with their anxiety by abusing depressant drugs that slow them and their brains down. 

For example, many people with anxiety also suffer from alcoholism. This is because abusing the depressant that is alcohol often slows down people’s brains and causes them to forget about their anxious thoughts. 

PTSD and Addiction

There are various types of anxiety disorders. For example, post-traumatic stress disorder, otherwise known as PTSD, is a type of anxiety disorder. Thus, like all anxiety disorders, it’s common for people with PTSD to simultaneously struggle with substance use issues. 

In particular, people that have PTSD often simultaneously suffer from opioid addictions. This is because PTSD often causes people to exhibit behavior that leads them to experience injuries and other conditions that cause them to get opioid prescriptions. Because of how addictive opioids are, though, it’s not long before many of these people start struggling with the dual diagnosis that is PTSD and opioid addiction. 

OCD and Addiction

Another common type of anxiety disorder is obsessive-compulsive disorder, otherwise known as OCD. Like with all anxiety disorders, it’s very common for people with OCD to turn to substance abuse to cope. Suffering from OCD also often leads to isolation that causes people to be more likely to abuse substances. 

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Bipolar disorder is another common mental illness that co-occurs with substance use disorders. This is because many people with bipolar disorder abuse substances to help them cope with their manic highs and lows. 

Because people with bipolar disorder experience both manic highs and lows, it’s not uncommon for them to abuse both depressants and stimulants. Regardless of the type of substance that a person with bipolar disorder abuses, such substance abuse often leads to the development of a dual diagnosis that consists of bipolar and addiction. 

Schizophrenia and Addiction

It’s very common for people that have schizophrenia to also suffer from co-occurring substance addictions. This is because substance abuse can easily trigger schizophrenia in a person that already has a genetic predisposition for the mental illness. 

It’s also common for people with schizophrenia to abuse substances to cope. Schizophrenia and addiction co-occur so frequently that studies show that approximately 50% of individuals with schizophrenia also have a history of substance abuse. 

Personality Disorders and Addiction

There are ten different types of personality disorders. These ten types of personality disorders are organized into three different groups or clusters. Cluster A of personality disorders contains paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder. 

The B Cluster contains antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. Cluster C has avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and anankastic (obsessive-compulsive) personality disorder. People with personality disorders often like to abuse substances to cope with their symptoms. 

What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

As previously mentioned, a dual diagnosis program at rehab facilities contains therapies that will simultaneously treat substance abuse and mental health issues. Examples of such therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an addiction therapy that changes people’s negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions into positive ones. Dialectical behavior therapy helps people accept their negative thoughts and emotions so that they don’t have the power to cause people to exhibit negative behaviors such as abusing other substances. 

Dual diagnosis treatment should also contain a continuum of care between substance abuse and mental illness—that way, both types of disorders can be treated effectively. 

Receive Dual Diagnosis Treatment at BRC Healthcare

BRC Healthcare contains a number of addiction treatment and family programs that cover all continuums of care and levels of care. Here at BRC, we are determined to bring real change to the face of addiction. That’s why we work so hard to offer high-quality dual diagnosis treatment. 

By offering our patients here at BRC Healthcare dual diagnosis treatment, we ensure that they receive the help they need for their substance addiction treatments and simultaneous mental health treatment.

Contact us today to learn more about BRC Healthcare and its addiction treatment and dual diagnosis treatment programs. Our staff would be more than willing to answer any of your inquiries.