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Dual Diagnosis – Linden

A dual diagnosis is made when someone with an addiction is also diagnosed with a mental illness. Although they occur together and are commonly known as “co-occurring disorders,” each illness in a dual diagnosis should be treated separately, although treatments should be integrated for the best chances of long-term recovery from each.

Find a recovery treatment center that offers specialized treatment for dual diagnoses when you call Drug Treatment Linden at (908) 329-2159.

The Prevalence of Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis is more common than once believed. Recent research found that around half of people with a serious mental illness and a third of those with any kind of mental disorder also had a substance addiction. On the other side of the coin, a third of people with an alcohol addiction and half of those with a drug addiction also had a mental illness.

One reason for the high prevalence of co-occurring disorders is that many people who have a mental illness self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, leading to an addiction. Another reason is that drugs and alcohol tend to make mental illnesses much worse, and they can even cause the initial onset of symptoms of a mental condition.

Common Mental Illnesses in Co-Occurring Disorders

The list of disorders that may co-occur with an addiction is long, but a handful of mental illnesses are very commonly seen with addictions.

  • Anxiety disorders are characterized by irrational fear and intense worrying. People with anxiety disorders may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to alleviate these distressing feelings.
  • Depression causes intense feelings of sadness, low self-worth, and guilt. People with depression may use drugs or alcohol to improve their mood, but it only works temporarily – if at all – and will most likely make the depression much worse.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by intense obsessions, such as with germs, which results in compulsive behaviors, such as constant cleaning, to alleviate intrusive thoughts that accompany this disorder. People with OCD may self-medicate to quiet the thoughts and reduce the intensity of the compulsions.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may occur weeks or years after being the witness of or the victim of a traumatic event. PTSD may cause emotional instability, insomnia, nightmares, and flashbacks, and people with PTSD may use drugs or alcohol to “forget” the event or to ward off nightmares.
  • Eating disorders are caused by a skewed body perception and self-image and by low self-esteem. Those with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder may use drugs or alcohol to feel more self-confident, or they may abuse stimulants to suppress the appetite.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

Various therapies are used to treat each illness in a dual diagnosis.

  • Pharmacotherapy involves using medications to control the symptoms of mental illness.
  • Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” helps patients identify and address the various issues that led to the addiction, and it helps them understand their mental illness and develop ways to cope with each condition. Psychotherapy takes place in individual, group, and family settings.
  • Behavioral management helps patients become aware of self-destructive attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors and replace them with healthier ways of thinking and behaving.

Once treatment has been successfully completed, an aftercare program is developed based on individual need. The aftercare plan helps ease the transition from rehab back to the “real” world to help prevent a lapse in sobriety, which can lead to a relapse of the addiction. This typically includes ongoing therapy and joining a community support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Smart Recovery.

Other components may include vocational rehab or a period of time spent living in a sober living facility. The aftercare plan is monitored on a regular basis, and changes are made based on emerging and changing needs.

Learn more from the experts at Drug Treatment Linden when you call (908) 329-2159.


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