Welcome to our Dual Diagnosis topic center. The term dual diagnosis is used to group together people who have been diagnosed with more than one major mental disorder at a time. Though there is no hard and fast rule to say so, convention suggests that one of the diagnoses that a dually diagnosed person will have is a substance abuse disorder, while the other will be a psychiatric illness. Cocaine abusing persons who are also depressed, or alcoholic persons who also experience hallucinations and delusions are examples of dually diagnosed patients. As a group, dually diagnosed persons tend to be sicker, have more severe and worrisome symptoms, and to require greater levels of care than persons who are only dealing with one disorder.
The healthcare system is not set up to easily meet the needs of dually diagnosed persons. Typically, substance abusing and psychiatric patients have different treatment needs. Relatively few addicts experience the emotional and cognitive deficits associated with mental illness. Substance abuse treatments are therefore geared towards confrontation of addictsâ€™ denial and healthy living education. Psychiatric patients with poor social skills, hallucinations, severe depressions, and diminished cognitive capacities tend to be ill-suited for such an environment. Similarly, psychiatric treatment centers tend to take their patients at face value, and may perhaps not probe when patients deny that they use drugs or alcohol. Symptoms that are really due to substance abuse may be misunderstood as psychiatric symptoms. Treatments may be prescribed that feed addictions rather than helping undo them (such as when doctors prescribe Valium (an addictive anti-anxiety drug) to alcoholics to help with ‘anxietyâ€™, or when a doctor prescribes an anti-depressant medication to an alcoholic who is continuing to drink (alcohol can cause depression)).
For these sorts of reasons, dual diagnosis patients tend to do best when their unique dual treatment needs are built directly into their treatment; in a dual diagnosis treatment program. Such programs are hard to find but do continue to exist in the larger cities.
Weâ€™ve made efforts to collect information, links and news relevant to dual diagnosis issues into this center. We hope you will take the time to browse and learn.
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