dual diagnosis rehab patient holding loved one's hand

What Does Dual Diagnosis Mean?

Dual diagnosis is the diagnosis of alcohol or drug abuse in addition to another mental health diagnosis. This diagnosis can coincide with either drug addiction or alcohol addiction. Either the substance abuse or the mental health issue can occur first. When an individual uses drugs and alcohol to self medicate, it often leads to a deeper problem and makes the initial diagnosis worse. Self-medicating can mask the symptoms of the mental health disorder, which in turn will prolong the disease. To start your journey to a full recovery, come visit us at North Jersey Recovery Center.

Dual Diagnosis: Common Mental Health Disorders That Co-Occur

Several different mental health disorders coincide with drug and/or alcohol addiction. It is estimated that over 40% of individuals with addiction problems have a dual diagnosis of another mental health disorder. It is important to note that people who receive a dual diagnosis have two separate illnesses. Some of these illnesses are:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Personality Disorder
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Eating Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Schizophrenia and Addiction

Schizophrenia is an extreme mental health disorder that affects how an individual thinks, feels, and behaves. Schizophrenia can co-occur with alcohol or drug abuse. Some signs or symptoms of schizophrenia are hallucinations and having a distorted view of reality. A distorted view of reality will hurt personal relationships.

Hallucinations are seeing or hearing something that is not there. This can deeply affect an individual’s behavior. Schizophrenia can be hereditary. Poor focusing is another symptom of schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia have a flawed and maladjusted way of thinking.

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Bipolar disorder was previously known as Manic Disorder. A person with this disorder has erratic behavior and mood swings. There are three different types of Bipolar disorder and they are: Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder and Cyclothymic Disorder. Bipolar disorder can have a dual diagnosis with substance abuse.

  • People with Bipolar Disorder can have both manic and depression symptoms at the same time. Sometimes these episodes are so severe that hospitalization is needed.
  • People with Bipolar II Disorder have manic episodes that are less severe with more depressive episodes.
  • A person with Cyclothymic Disorder can have depressive symptoms for up to two years.

Depression and Addiction

To be diagnosed with clinical depression, you must have the symptoms for over half a month. A person with depression has extreme manifestations of the way they think, their mood, eating, and sleeping. A center that treats dual diagnosis can be advantageous in helping depression and addiction problems. 

Postpartum depression is a common form of depression. This happens after a woman has given birth. This is just not the blues of having a baby; the symptoms are much more severe. Some of these symptoms are uncontrollable weeping, being irritable, being extremely anxious, withdrawal from close friends and close family, being overwhelmed, loss of hope, thoughts of suicide, unable to bond with your baby, and not being able to sleep.

Personality Disorder and Addiction

Personality Disorder is a mental health disorder where the individual has a dysfunctional way of behaving. This type of disorder limits relationships. Some common personality disorders are:  

  • Cluster A personality disorder is a personality disorder. The characteristics of Cluster A personality disorder is eccentric and odd behavior.
  • Paranoid personality disorder is a personality disorder. The characteristics of paranoid personality disorder are: having unfounded distrust in a friend or a spouse, angry outbursts to insults, unfounded mistrust that a person is out to harm you, innocent remarks taken as insults to you.
  • Schizoid personality disorder is a personality disorder. Some characteristics of Schizoid personality disorder are: unable to take pleasure in the joys of life, not warming up to others, no interest in relationships.

Anxiety Disorder and Addiction

Anxiety disorder is not the anxious feeling you get every now and then. It is a fear gripping reality people live with every day. General symptoms of anxiety disorder are panic, angst, and sleeping problems. Some symptoms of anxiety disorder are: being nauseous, being fearful, not being able to sleep, having tense muscles and being dizzy. Social phobias and panic disorders are among the few anxiety disorders.  

Social phobias are in overwhelming discomfort in social settings. Sometimes the person might feel judged. The people diagnosed with social phobias avoid certain social situations.

In addition, there is separation anxiety disorder. Separation anxiety disorder is the fear of being separated from a person that they love. They have a fear of being alone.

Agoraphobia is another anxiety disorder. Agoraphobia is having more than one fear of being outside alone or public transportation or being in a crowded place.

Eating Disorder and Addiction

Eating disorders can be a dual diagnosis, along with addiction. Eating disorders are very serious and can be fatal. Eating disorders affect every race, gender, and background. Some common eating disorders are: 

  • Bulimia is an example of an eating disorder. Bulimia is when a large meal is consumed and then either thrown up or the use of laxatives are used to have forced bowel movements. Some symptoms of bulimia are chronic sore throat, intestinal issues, and dehydration. 
  • Anorexia is another example of an eating disorder. Anorexia is the distorted self-image of being too fat even though, in most instances, the person is extremely thin. This can cause several health problems and can be fatal. Some symptoms are hair thinning, brain damage, and brittle bones.
  • Binge eating is another example of an eating disorder. Binge eating is just eating compulsively in a short amount of time. Some symptoms are fast eating, eating alone, feelings of embarrassment.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is a disorder that is lengthy as far as time. It is a disorder where you engross yourself in a particular thought, and you become over passionate about something. It is uncontrollable, and it is recurring over and over again.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction

Post traumatic stress disorder is a mental health disorder that is prompted by a traumatic event. Nightmares and flashbacks are some of the recurring symptoms. Symptoms of PTSD could manifest years after the triggered event, but it can be within a month of the event. PTSD can be from recurring stresses. An example of this would be military personnel during war-time or emergency and first responders that are in a stressful situation often.  

Seeking Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers

If you or a loved one are going through any addiction or any other mental health disorder, seek help quickly. A great place to start is with us here at North Jersey Recovery Center. We have an intensive outpatient program that can bring hope to you or a loved one.

Warning Signs for Dual Diagnosis

Some of the warning signs for dual diagnosis are:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Finding it difficult to manage everyday tasks
  • Neglecting health and hygiene
  • Refusal to seek treatment
  • Irrational behavior
  • The inability to manage finances
  • Underperforming at school or work
  • Withdrawal from family and friends

Help for Dual Diagnosis

It is irrelevant to whether the mental health disorder came first or whether the addiction came first. The important thing is the proper treatment for the co-occuring diagnosis. Proper treatment for both diagnoses is important, so there is no relapse with addiction. An intensive inpatient program can help with a dual diagnosis treatment. There are a few questions that need to be asked to ensure you or your loved one gets the best treatment. Some questions that should be asked are:

  • What types of plans do you offer?
  • Does your facility offer a treatment plan for dual diagnosis?
  • Does your facility have a medical staff?
  • Do you have licensed psychiatric professionals?
  • Does your facility have a relapse program?
  • Does your facility partake in an aftercare program?

For more information

It is important to get the proper treatment plan for you or your loved one. Education is the key to get the right facility to fit all your needs. To get the information you need on dual diagnosis or any treatment plan needed for you or a loved one, feel free to contact us directly at the North Jersey Recovery at 800-741-3300. It is important to us that you or your loved one get the right help needed.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brian Ostertag

brian-ostertag-150x150Brian Ostertag, BA, MA, LCADC, CCS, is the Clinical Director for North Jersey Recovery Center. Brian is a compassionate leader with a desire to see others exceed, and who believes that people want to work hard at something they find meaningful and believe in. He is a strong addiction services professional with degrees in Psychology Addiction Studies, and Pastoral Counseling.