Dual-Diagnosis: Treating Mental Illness and Addiction

mental illness and addiction

Unfortunately, addiction and mental illness aren’t mutually exclusive things for a lot of people. While neither occurs in a vacuum and external forces influence everything in our lives, with respect to addiction and mental illness, it doesn’t automatically follow that one produces the other.

In fact, for a person dealing with both, like the chicken and the egg, it can sometimes be tough to determine which came first.

In simple terms, dual-diagnosis just means that someone is dealing with addiction and a co-occurring mental illness.

The stats from the National Institute on Drug Abuse bear out that 7.7 million adults have co-occurring mental and substance use disorder. Moreover, of the 20.3 million adults that had substance abuse disorders in 2017, 37.9% had mental illnesses as well. On the flip side, of the 42.1 million adults struggling with mental illnesses, 18.2% had substance abuse disorders too.

They don’t go fully hand in hand, but the overlap is stark and the risk factors for substance abuse and mental illness have quite a bit of overlap.

While one doesn’t always cause the other, they absolutely do fuel and exacerbate each other.

And it makes sense why.

If you’re suffering from a mental illness, any mental illness, and aren’t getting the proper treatment it’s possible that in order to alleviate that mental anguish you’ll resort to self-medicating. The more substances you take, the more your brain chemistry changes and the more you need to take to avoid dealing with the unbearable weight of living that mental illness has caused.

The coping mechanism becomes the culprit.

Conversely, because addiction is a chronic brain disease, as your brain changes due to prolonged use and abuse of drugs and alcohol, mental disorders can develop.

It stands to reason that just about any mental disorder can happen in conjunction with substance abuse but there are a handful that are more common:

  • Anxiety/Panic Disorders
  • Bipolar/Mood Disorders 
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Sex Addiction
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder

Who Should Go to A Dual-Diagnosis Treatment Center in Florida?

The natural byproduct of struggling with both addiction and mental illness is that it increases the risk for things like suicide, violence and a host of other outcomes exponentially.

Because of this relationship, tackling both together in an integrated form of treatment is the only way to meaningfully break the cycle.

The treatment isn’t widely dissimilar from standard rehab. The general structure of detox, inpatient care and aftercare are kept but the emphasis on mental illness is stronger. The psychiatric and clinical staff, as well as counselors and therapists, are more attuned to helping people work through those mental issues. After detox, you’ll be evaluated by that team of experts to confirm/make a diagnosis of a co-occurring illness. 

Dual-diagnosis treatment can also often take longer due to the fact that working through two highly complex problems concurrently simply requires more time.

Given that, not all facilities are equipped for it but our dual-diagnosis residential treatment center in Florida is up to the task.

Benefits of Treating Mental Illness and Addiction Together

Of the many benefits that come with treating these two together, the first is relief. Relief that you’ve uncovered a reason for your suffering and relief that you’ve finally found an answer to it. At Principles Recovery Center in South Florida, we offer that relief in the form of our dual-diagnosis treatment center. Working through both issues at the same time sets you up with a strong foundation on which you can build the rest of your life confidently.