The problem with mental health disorders is they’re often invisible. A person who has cancer might experience hair loss from treatment; someone who is living with diabetes has a blood-testing kit and syringes. People with depression, anxiety or even schizophrenia look relatively healthy most of the time.
This leads to situations like patients having their conditions dismissed as attention-seeking or just a bad mood. Worse, there are stigmas against mental illness across the globe. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Health and Human Behavior found 68 percent of Americans didn’t want someone with a mental health disorder marrying into their family, and 58 percent didn’t want workers with mental disorders in their workplaces.
That stigma can discourage sick people from seeking treatment, which often leads to self-medication.
The danger of drugs is they often work, initially: The dopamine release drugs cause can create a sense of euphoria in a troubled person. Unfortunately, a lot of substances – illicit and otherwise – are also highly addictive, leaving the untreated patient with two things: Their original mental condition, often made worse by the psychoactive effects of drugs, and a substance use disorder.
This is known as a dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders.
Put simply, dual diagnosis is the term for the condition when a person is dealing with both a mental and a substance abuse disorder at the same time. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) prefers the term “co-occurring disorders,” and reports 7.9 million adults had these disorders in 2014.
Although the combination of mental problems and addiction sounds daunting, they’re both treatable. Treatment’s not always easy, but it works.
The National Alliance on Mental Health outlines five ways dual diagnosis is treated:
Seeking help is critically important for anyone with a dual diagnosis; studies cited by the American Psychological Association have found many people in jail have co-occurring disorders. Sovereign Health of Texas provides effective, scientifically-proven treatment for substance abuse and dual diagnosis at its El Paso facility. Our experts develop personally-tailored programs to ensure successful, lasting recovery. For more information, please call our 24/7 helpline.
Brian Moore is a staff writer and graphic designer for the Sovereign Health Group. A 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry, he writes articles and creates graphics across Sovereign’s portfolio of marketing and content products. Brian enjoys music, bicycling and playing the tuba, which’s he’s done with varying degrees of success for over 25 years. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author and designer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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