Mental Health Issues |

The Dual Diagnosis of Drug Abuse and Mental Health Issues

Posted on 21. Feb, 2014 by in Alcohol & Drug Abuse

Experts have estimated that more than half of those with substance abuse problems or mental health issues are struggling with both conditions. Some doctors believe that the co-occurrence of drug abuse and mental health problems is because suffering from one makes a person more vulnerable to the other.

It is estimated by the National Institute of Mental Health that one in five adults in the US is suffering with a diagnosable mental disorder. Whether the mental health problem has manifest itself or is merely a biological vulnerability, substance abuse can be a trigger that creates or exacerbates the problem. While the drug use does not cause the mental issue, it can be the catalyst that causes the issue to manifest. In other cases, the mental issue is already active but not diagnosed, and this lack of diagnosis drives the person toward substance abuse as a form of self-medication.

The growing awareness of co-occurring drug abuse and mental health issues is changing the way doctors think about each of the diseases. Some researchers have begun arguing that rather than it a dual diagnosis, some types of mental illness and addiction may be two parts of the same diagnosis.

One of the areas of research where this argument is most common is in regards to bipolar disorder. This mental disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings between mania and depression. During the mania side of the cycle, patients have racing thoughts, poor judgment, and are easily distracted. They sleep very little, abuse drugs, and deny that there is a problem. During the depression cycle of bipolar disorder, patients experience feelings of guilt, despair, and hopelessness, sleep too much, and may think about death or suicide. Researchers are finding that people who suffer from bipolar disorder have a much higher rate of alcoholism.

Findings such as these are helping doctors and treatment centers to be more alert to the possibility of a dual diagnosis when evaluating a patient for drug abuse and mental health problems. It is critical for a person suffering from either of these issues to seek help and get the proper level of care.

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