Dual Diagnosis and Psychiatric Problems

Dual diagnosis defines a person who has both an alcohol and drug problem and who has emotional and psychiatric problems either as a result of the addiction or has been medicating existing psychiatric problems with drugs and alcohol to escape from the misery of them.

According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association thirty-seven percent of alcohol abusers and fifty-three percent of drug abusers have at least one serious mental illness.

There are all kinds of different psychiatric problems that are thought to occur in tandem with drug or alcohol dependency. These include:

• Anxiety disorders like panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and phobias
• Depressive disorders like depression and bipolar disorder
• Other psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and personality disorders

According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health study, f you have anti-social personality disorder you are 15.5% more likely to abuse a drug or alcohol. If you are a manic depressive you are 14.5 percent more likely to abuse it during a manic episode. Following that the person with schizophrenia is most likely to abuse alcohol or drugs at 10.1 percent.

In general dual diagnosis experts do seem to agree that recreational drinking and drug use may be an attempt on the part of the addict to try and medicate a preexisting psychiatric problem. Both drugs and alcohol can help release inhibitions, help a person feel more relaxed and confident and also help bury feelings of panic, nervousness or low self-consciousness.

To take care of a person with a dual diagnosis, treatment often entails figuring out what the primary condition is. Sometimes it is the substance abuse problem that is the fueling disorder and sometimes it is the psychiatric disorder. At any rate medication and a long stay in a rehab is often prescribed to get to the bottom of what is really triggering the dual diagnosis.