Substance abuse, alcoholism or drug addiction are just as common as mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, and some people experience both at the same time.
When this happens, the term ‘co-occurring disorder’ or ‘dual diagnosis’ is often used to describe it, and the consequences of living with such a diagnosis can be tough for anyone. However, if you’re suffering from substance abuse and a mental health disorder and are struggling to cope, understanding your diagnosis better can help you regain some control over your life.
What happens in a dual diagnosis?
If you’ve been given a dual diagnosis by a health professional, this means that your mental health issue and your substance abuse will each have their own unique symptoms, and each will undoubtedly impede your everyday life on some level or another.
You may find that you struggle to keep up with your classes at school, are unable to maintain your workload in your job or find it hard to handle the stresses of life.
Unfortunately, if your mental health issue is not treated at all, or often enough, then most find that their substance abuse worsens and vice versa, and this can quickly begin to feel like a vicious cycle that you can see no end to. While you may feel isolated and alone, it may comfort you to know that co-occurring substance abuse and mental health issues are relatively common, and as a result, there is plenty of professional help available to you.
No one need suffer alone or in silence with a dual diagnosis, and while you may not believe it, you can find your way back to happiness and you will feel better one day.
Does the substance abuse come first, or vice versa?
Sometimes, alcohol and drugs are commonly used to balance the sufferer’s effects of a mental health illness, which can in turn lead to unwanted side effects and may even worsen the symptoms that they initially helped alleviate.
On the flip side, it is also widely acknowledged that the abuse of alcohol or drugs can increase the underlying risk of developing a mental health disorder. Research has shown that some who abuse marijuana, for example, increase their risk of psychosis, while abusers of opioid painkillers may risk developing depression at a later stage.
This might all sound scary, and if you think you may have a problem with your mental health and you’re abusing substances, or you’re newly diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder, it’s important to know that everyone can get help, most importantly you, and no therapist or other mental health professional will cast any judgement over you, no matter what your problem and what may have caused it.
So please don’t suffer in silence if you’re struggling with a dual diagnosis, seek help and learn how to reclaim your life.
Learn more at: https://heartcenteredcounselors.com