Although the link between substance abuse and mental illness has been well documented, many fail to recognize the presence of a dual-diagnosis disorder in themselves or a loved one. Whether they’re unable to see that their substance abuse and mood disorders are related or they’re unwilling to admit that a problem exists at all, millions struggle with addiction and co-occurring mental illness each year without getting the help they need. The National Association of Mental Illness estimates that of the roughly 20 million Americans suffering from addiction, 53 percent suffer from at least one serious mental illness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Mental Health reports that nearly eight million people suffer from some sort of dual-diagnosis disorder.
Within the context of addiction care, dual-diagnosis disorder is a condition in which a patient suffers from substance abuse with a co-occurring mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety. Many factors prevent dual-diagnosis sufferers from getting quality help, not the least significant of which include stigma, lack of access to treatment resources and denial; this is why it’s important that loved ones and friends take an active role in identifying a problem whenever possible. Despite the glut of clinical research on dual-diagnosis disorder, many continue to remain in the dark regarding commonality, symptoms and treatment protocol. If you believe that you or a loved one are battling substance abuse and mental illness, you’re not alone. Here are a few things to consider from SAMHSA:
- Over the past six years, the amount of rehab patients with a separate established mental illness has increased from 12 to 16 percent of the general treatment population
- 10 Percent of adults with full-time jobs suffer from mental illness and nearly 11 percent struggle with drug addiction
- Over half of those living with a dual diagnosis did not receive any medical treatment or psychotherapeutic intervention to help them progress in their recovery
- Only about 40 percent of the three million professionals with co-occurring disorder received any treatment intervention either addiction or mental illness and less than 5 percent received treatment for simultaneous conditions
- More men than women are diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, but the percentage of females living with a dual diagnosis increased in recent years
- About 21 percent of dual Diagnosis patients are addicted to prescription opiates like OxyContin, Percocet, Lortab and others (up from 13 percent)
The most effective intervention for dual-diagnosis disorder is to treat each problem separately yet simultaneously. This includes medical detox to mitigate the long-term damage of drug abuse followed by comprehensive rehab and psychotherapy to help patients address the root causes of both conditions. Whether or not the issues were initially related, attention must be paid to both in order to help patients maintain long-term recovery and lasting wellness. There are more treatment options than ever before to help patients heal from dual-diagnosis disorder. The most important thing is to get help now. Don’t let stigma or uncertainty get in the way of your future or that of your loved one.