Dual diagnosis refers to a person who is affected by mental illness and substance abuse simultaneously. Mental illness and substance use interact and make symptoms of each diagnosis worse and more complex. People who suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or other psychiatric disorders often turn to drugs or alcohol to escape reality.

According to Laura Greenstein who wrote “Understanding Dual Diagnosis” (2017) for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “While mental health conditions may not directly cause substance use disorders (and vice versa), it is a possibility. Those with mental illness are more susceptible to addiction—substance abuse is twice as prevalent among adults with mental illness—because of the desire to self-medicate symptoms.”

Drugs and alcohol affect a person’s mood and can cause aggressive behavior such as rage, violence, or anger. The intensity of the substance, duration of use, and amount used determine the effects each person experiences. Some substances can cause lethargy, sleepiness, or delayed responses and reactions.

PTSD is a debilitating mental disorder marked by depression, intense anxiety, and intrusive memories or flashbacks that interfere with daily life. People develop PTSD from military combat, natural disasters, sexual assault, or childhood abuse. First responders are also at high risk of PTSD due to on-scene tragedies, accidents, or crimes.

People living with PTSD often relive the traumatic event, have nightmares, and can become socially withdrawn. A person who suffers from PTSD can feel ashamed or guilty from the trauma and be reluctant to seek help. When a person with PTSD and substance abuse goes to treatment, he or she needs intense support and encouragement from family and friends. A dual diagnosis can be difficult to treat, but recovery is possible.

In treatment, a medical professional or medical team can monitor and manage the combined treatment and medication if needed. Drugs and alcohol worsen symptoms of mental illness and cause physical impairment, overdose, or death. Saying “I need help” is not easy for some, but is necessary to get proper treatment for recovery. Do not wait, get help today.

If you or a loved one struggle with addiction, get help now. Nexus Recovery Services specializes in addiction treatment and encompasses holistic therapy for the mind, body, and soul with a focus on staying active and connected to nature. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life of sobriety. We offer a free and confidential consultation. Call us to get started:888-855-6877

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