Co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis refers to a condition where a person is suffering from two problems – usually a mental health problem and a substance abuse issue – existing side by side. A coexisting condition can appear in many different combinations, such as an eating disorder alongside a substance abuse problem. An individual suffering from depression could also be struggling with an addiction to drugs like heroin, cocaine, marijuana and so on.
Nevertheless, while addressing a dual diagnosis case, sometimes doctors might attempt to treat one problem at a time. However, studies have shown that they have not been successful in eradicating the underlying causes. On the other hand, treating both problems concurrently betters chances of recovery and a shorter route to sobriety.
Dual diagnosis issues are certainly not limited to food, drugs, or any other intoxicants. In fact, researches show that the underlying cause of most mental health ailments and substance abuse problems is the inability to cope with emotional pain. According to a report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers suffer from a serious mental health issue. Of all people diagnosed with a mental disorder, 29 percent abuse either alcohol or drugs.
Sequential treatment is ineffective for dual diagnosis and
Historically, doctors and medical practitioners never treated a dual diagnosis problem simultaneously. On the contrary, whichever condition was known to create the most negative impact on an individual was considered as the primary condition and given priority over the other. Moreover, doctors would focus on the secondary condition only after treating the primary one, till it reached a stable state.
In many cases, long-term use of sequential methods of treatment was attributed to the scarcity of medical experts well equipped in multiple disciplines. As a result, only one condition received all the attention and the other was almost neglected. For example, sequential treatment for a dual diagnosis case, involving chronic alcoholism and depression, often focused primarily on the drinking problem due to its visible physical impact.
Such a preferential treatment of one condition, detox centers near me
Where the other was parked for a later period, mostly led to a further deterioration of the other condition, which also impacted the ongoing treatment of the previous one. While the substance abuse problem was being treated with positive outcomes, the mental health condition was ignored and left to intensify.
There is a huge possibility that both the co-occurring disorders could have risen from the same latent cause, such as a traumatic event in one’s personal life, or the addiction problem might be due to an attempt to self-medicate for anxiety or depression. This is one of the major reasons why sequential treatment has been largely replaced by the integrated treatment.
While treating two problems simultaneously, each of the two problems is given equal importance and treated as a primary condition.
Seeking professional help
Co-occurring disorders are complex and their diagnosis and treatment may often be challenging. However, it is important to treat both the disorders simultaneously to effectively address both substance abuse and psychiatric conditions. If you or your loved one is suffering from co-occurring disorders, it is imperative to take the necessary medical help before matters go out of control