The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that, “Dual diagnosis is a term for when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously.” Dual-diagnosis disorders are also called co-occurring disorders, or co-existing disorders. It is often difficult and sometimes impossible to determine if the psychiatric condition or the drug addiction and alcoholism first developed.

Drug addiction and alcoholism can lead to neurologic and behavioral changes that can foster the development or progression of psychiatric and emotional conditions. Conversely, having a psychiatric or emotional disorder can lead to the excessive use of substances in an attempt to combat the symptoms of the mental health problem. The repetitive, chronic use of drugs and alcohol can easily develop into a full-blow addiction.

It is thought that near 50% of those with a substance abuse disorder also suffer from a mental health disorder. In the past, the substance abuse disorder was treated first. The drug addict or alcoholic was first detoxified and then treated in a drug rehab program. After stabilization, a psychiatric examination would be performed on the patients who seemed to have mental health needs, other than for the addiction. If any abnormality was found on the psychiatric evaluation, then treatment would be initiated.

In the current addiction field, a well-qualified drug and alcohol rehab will identify those with mental health needs and move to make a psychiatric diagnosis much earlier than in the past. With this came the practice of simultaneously treating substance abusers for both the psychiatric condition and the drug addiction and/or alcoholism. It is now believed that simultaneous treatment is critical in preventing a relapse or regression of either disorder. An added benefit to simultaneous treatment is that many of the medications that are used to treat those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are also used for psychiatric treatment.

When a person with a substance use disorder is also suffering from a mental health disorder, it is critical that they carefully manage both disorders to ensure that a relapse from one to the other does not occur. Once both disorders are fully active, the person’s condition can turn life-threatening.

Common Psychiatric Disorders For Drug & Alcohol Addicts

  1. Mood disorders: Bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders
  2. Compulsive disorders: Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  3. Personality disorders (PD): Antisocial PD, histrionic PD, borderline PD, and others
  4. Thought disorders: Schizophrenia

If you feel that you are suffering from a psychiatric condition and are also addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is critical that you seek professional help. No all drug and alcohol rehabs offer treatment for those with dual diagnosis disorders. It is important that any treatment center that cares for patients with co-occurring disorders have both a psychiatrist and medical doctor on staff, either of whom can be an addiction doctor. In this way, the addiction and psychiatric condition can be treated along with any other medical conditions that may exist.

If you have been diagnosed with a dual diagnosis disorder, or feel you have a psychiatric and substance abuse disorder, the addiction specialists at the National Addiction Institute can help you find a drug and alcohol treatment center that can meet your needs. You can reach NAI 24/7 by calling 844-889-8140, or you can simply complete our confidential online contact form.