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Dual Diagnosis

Many people with an addiction problem also have a secondary condition, which is usually a mental health disorder. Having both conditions can complicate treatment and often requires special therapy for the person to recover. These people are said to have a dual diagnosis and must seek treatment for both conditions in a North Dakota center.

What is a Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis is also referred to as co-existing disorder, co-occurring disorders, or COD. It occurs when a person has both a substance addiction and a mental health disorder. While either condition can come first, many times a person will use a substance to self-treat the mental health disorder. They do not want anyone to know about the condition, and therefore they will mask it with alcohol or drugs.

It can be difficult to tell when someone has this condition because they are adept at hiding it. Many times, a person with co-existing disorders can function in social situations so that no one is aware of their struggles. In fact, the addiction often makes socializing and managing responsibilities easier, at least in the beginning. It disguises and even temporarily stops the symptoms of the mental health disorder.

As the addiction worsens, the body requires more of the substance to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are often the same as the mental health disorder and can even make it worse.

Types of Co-existing Disorders

A vast range of mental health disorders can be linked with addiction. Some are more common, which can alert people to potential problems earlier if they are aware of them.

For example, depression often goes with drug or alcohol addiction because the substance gives the person a temporary euphoric feeling that they associate with being happy. If sad memories, such as a death in the family, are making the depression worse, alcohol may help the person forget for a while.

OCD is another common mental health condition linked with addiction. People will begin taking drugs to stop the obsessive behaviors. The symptoms stop for a while in the beginning, until they become dependent on the substance and need more of it.

People who suffer from anxiety may turn to prescription medications to keep them calm, or use alcohol to quiet their thoughts. If they suffer social anxiety, they may take a few drinks to calm their nerves. When it works, they may use this self-treating method more often. Soon, they will have to increase the amount to feel the same calming effects. In time, it will stop working and they will feel more jittery and nervous than ever as the symptoms of addiction take hold.


Treating Co-Existing Disorders

A person must find therapy that treats both conditions in a dual diagnosis for long-term success. Many North Dakota treatment centers specialize in this condition and offer therapy for the mental health disorder along with addiction.

The medical provider may prescribe medications to treat the mental health disorder, while using therapy for the addiction. The person will learn better ways of controlling the symptoms without turning to drugs or alcohol.

It is common for the person to continue treatment after the initial program has been completed, in order to prevent relapse of the addiction and to monitor the mental health disorder. Similar to addiction, many mental health conditions are not curable, but they can be managed with aftercare treatment.

If you have a loved one suffering from both conditions, research the available treatment centers to find one that specializes in co-existing disorders. Encourage the person to seek treatment and let them know it is okay to admit that they need help. They do not have to fight the mental health disorder or the addiction on their own. For more information about the benefits of dual diagnosis therapy, dial an addiction specialist today.