Dual diagnosis is the condition of suffering from a mental illness and a comorbid substance abuse problem.
Dual Diagnosis treatment is a relatively new innovation in the field of addiction recovery. Until the 1990s, people who were experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder — anxiety attacks , depressive episodes, delusional behavior or mood swings — were treated separately from those who sought help for drug or alcohol abuse.
When these conditions overlapped, clients were often denied treatment for a mental illness until they got clean and sober. Unfortunately, because substance abuse is often driven by an underlying psychiatric disorder, this meant that many people with a Dual Diagnosis of addiction and a mental disorder never got the help they needed.
Getting a Dual Diagnosis may come as a huge relief if you’ve lived with an undiagnosed mental illness for a long time. If you’ve put up with severe mood swings, episodes of hopelessness and sadness, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations or flashbacks to traumatic events for years, putting a name to your condition may give you a sense of hope. After all, if your condition can be named, it can be treated.
The most common mental health disorders that co-occur with substance use disorders include: