What is Dual Diagnosis?
As already defined, dual diagnosis occurs when an individual has a mental illness along with an addiction to drugs and alcohol. The common mental illnesses that are often seen along with substance abuse include the following:
• PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
• Bipolar disorder
• Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Interestingly, dual diagnosis does not exclusively apply to substance abuse issues. Dual diagnosis can also occur in those people who have process addictions (also commonly known as behavioral addictions). Examples include gambling addiction, food addiction, internet addiction, and sex addiction. You may often hear the term co-occurring disorders when dual diagnosis is discussed in articles, blogs, or on the news. In many instances, both of these terms are used interchangeably. Many feel that co-occurring disorders and dual diagnosis are the same. There are slight differences between the two terms, and this difference depends on the nature of the diagnosis:
• For those with a dual diagnosis, the discovered conditions could have substance abuse as the leading underlying cause but are two separate diagnoses.
• For those with a co-occurring disorder, the onset of their mental illness may lead them to use substances in order to cope with their feelings. Likewise, chronic dependence on substances led to the onset of a mental illness.