This Mental Health Awareness Month we wanted to shed some light on dual-diagnosis & co-occurring disorders so you, your coworkers and your friends are able to help those who may need it.
If you have question about dual-diagnosis treatment for yourself or a loved one
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Everything you need to Know about Dual Diagnosis Infographic
In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, we created an infographic with everything you need to know about dual-diagnosis. The truth is that people struggling with a dual diagnosis remain shockingly untreated. In fact, more than 50 percent of those living with a dual diagnosis did not receive any medical treatment or psychotherapeutic intervention to help them progress in their recovery.
Get the facts about Dual-Diagnosis
- It is estimated that about 17.5 million Americans over the age of 18 (or 8 percent of the adult population) had a serious mental health disorder in the past year. Of these, about 4 million people also struggled with a co-occurring drug or alcohol dependency.
- In the span of six years, the percentage of patients in drug rehab seeking help for addiction issues who were also diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder increased from 12 percent to 16 percent.
- Dual Diagnosis patients are very often functional in the workforce. In fact, it is estimated that among those who are employed fulltime, about 10.6 percent dealt with a substance abuse problem, another 10.2 percent struggled with a serious psychological issue, and 2.4 percent were diagnosed with both a mental health issue and a drug abuse problem.
- Employed men were twice as likely as employed women to have struggled with a drug abuse or addiction issue in the past year (13.2 percent as compared to 6.9 percent), but employed women were almost twice as likely to have dealt with serious mental health issues in the past year (14.2 percent as compared to 7.3 percent).
- More than 50 percent of those living with a Dual Diagnosis did not receive any medical treatment or psychotherapeutic intervention to help them progress in their recovery.
Are you or someone you know struggling with a dual-diagnosis?
- Of the almost 3 million adults employed and living with a Dual Diagnosis, only about 40 percent received any treatment intervention at all for either disorder and less than 5 percent received treatment for both issues.
- Too often, those living with a Dual Diagnosis receive treatment for only one of their ailments. It is estimated that of the adults living with co-occurring disorders, 34 percent receive mental health treatment, 2 percent enroll in drug rehab, and 12 percent get the help they need for both disorders.
- More men than women are diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, but the percentage of females living with a Dual Diagnosis has increased in recent years. Between 1995 and 2001, the proportion of women admitted into Dual Diagnosis treatment programs increased from 28 percent to 44 percent.
- In the 1990s, alcohol was the primary drug of choice for more than 50 percent of Dual Diagnosis patients. Since the turn of the millennium, that trend has slowly shifted downward: Alcohol is the primary substance of abuse for 45 percent of Dual Diagnosis patients (down from 51 percent) and 38 percent of all other substance-abusing patients (down from 45 percent).
- The biggest increase in use for any one substance in the 2000s has been prescription painkillers. About 21 percent of Dual Diagnosis patients are addicted to prescription opiates like OxyContin, Percocet, Lortab and others (up from 13 percent).
Know the Symptoms
The defining characteristic of dual diagnosis is that both a mental health and substance abuse disorder occur simultaneously. Because there are many combinations of disorders that can occur, the symptoms of dual diagnosis vary widely. The symptoms of substance abuse may include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Anger or Mood Swings
- Lacking Motivation
- Issues with Finances
- Issues with Time Management
- Twitching or Shaking
- Sneaky or Deceitful Behavior
- Sudden Weight Changes
- Cuts or Sores on the Arms or Face
- Changes in Appearance or Hygiene
- Erratic Behavior or Changes in Behavior
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Engaging in risky behaviors when drunk or high
- Loss of control over use of substances
The symptoms of a mental health condition also can vary greatly. Knowing the warnings signs, such as extreme mood changes, confused thinking or problems concentrating, avoiding friends and social activities and thoughts of suicide, can help identify if there is a reason to seek help. Some symptoms of a mental health disorder may include:
- Extreme Mood Changes
- Confused Thinking
- Problems with Concentration
- Avoiding Friends or Social Activities
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Excessive Fears or Anxiety
- Dramatic Changes in Eating and/or Sleeping Habits
- Seeing or Hearing Things that Aren’t There
- Inability to Complete Normal Responsibilities
- Increased Anxiety or Prolonged Depression
Assessment & Treatment
Identify the problem
Assessment, diagnosis and treatment of co-occurring mental health disorders is ONLY effective if the person is abstinent from mood and mind altering substances and should be done in the early stages of the recovery process. Things that can be assessed and used to diagnose a dual-diagnosis include:
- Executive functioning
Treating substance use disorders and mental health disorders concurrently requires a comprehensive and well-rounded treatment plan that incorporates a variety of therapies and treatments. These can include:
- Individual Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Experiential Therapies
- Psychiatric management
- Therapeutic process groups
- Chemical dependency groups
- Family Therapy
- Anger management
- Eating disorder related treatments
- Trauma Therapy
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse
Bipolar disorder and alcoholism often occur together. Although the association between bipolar disorder and alcoholism isn’t clearly understood, these factors likely play a role:
Genetic differences appear to affect brain chemistry linked to bipolar disorder. These same traits may also affect the way the brain responds to alcohol and other drugs, increasing the risk of alcoholism and addiction to other drugs.
Depression and anxiety
Some people drink to ease depression, anxiety and other symptoms of bipolar disorder. Drinking may seem to help, but in the long run it makes symptoms worse. This can lead to more drinking — a vicious cycle that’s difficult to overcome.
This upswing from depression is usually characterized by an intensely elated (euphoric) mood and hyperactivity. It commonly causes bad judgment and lowered inhibitions, which can lead to increased alcohol use or drug abuse.