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It can be difficult to diagnose co-occurring disorders since it may not be clear whether certain symptoms are related to a mental illness or substance abuse.

When it comes to diagnosing co-occurring disorders, integrated screenings are key. Due to the high prevalence of dual diagnosis, an integrated screening protocol is used in both mental health care settings and substance abuse treatment settings to help diagnose co-occurring disorders. The screening is simple and involves a series of questions that are scored to help determine whether a comprehensive assessment is needed to diagnose a co-occurring disorder.

Learn more about the connection between mental health and addiction here, or contact Silvermist at (724) 268-4858 to learn more about our dual diagnosis rehab in Pennsylvania.

The Prevalence of Dual Diagnosis

People who have a mood or anxiety disorder are twice as likely as those without to develop a substance use disorder, and vice-versa, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Any mental illness can occur with a substance use disorder, but some more commonly co-occur than others. Some examples include:

  • Anxiety

  • Depressive disorders

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Eating disorders

Around one-third of people who have any type of mental illness, including anxiety or depression, and half of those with a serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, also have a substance use disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Conversely, around a third of people who abuse alcohol and over half of those who abuse drugs also have a mental illness.

The Link between Mental Illness & Substance Abuse

The link between mental illness and substance abuse is well-established.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains three scenarios that help us understand this link:

  • Abusing drugs can cause the onset of a mental illness or worsen an existing mental illness.

  • People who have a mental illness are likely to self-medicate the symptoms with drugs or alcohol.

  • Overlapping factors for substance use disorders and mental illnesses leave some people at a higher risk of having both.

Employ a Recovery Perspective

The recovery perspective acknowledges that recovery is an ongoing process of internal change that proceeds through various stages.

There are two main principles for treatment under the recovery perspective:

  • Developing relevant treatment interventions for each stage of recovery: Successful recovery is a process of setting and achieving goals at each stage of the process. Relevant therapies, interventions and services are essential at each stage. The stages of recovery include:

    1. The repair stage: This stage finds people in recovery working to repair the damage done by the addiction. Individuals in the repair stage begin to separate themselves from an addiction identity, begin feeling comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, and continue to engage in peer support groups.
    2. The growth stage: In the growth stage, individuals let go of resentments and move forward, set healthy boundaries, begin to give back, and continue to maintain a high level of mindfulness of their lifestyle and emotional states.
    3. The abstinence stage: During the abstinence stage, the main focus of recovery is on coping with cravings and other triggers and abstaining from substance abuse. Individuals are focused on self-care, finding employment, practicing honesty and developing healthy lifestyle habits.
  • Developing a treatment plan that offers continuity over time: Treatment can occur in various settings over time. A client may start in residential treatment before moving to an intensive outpatient program and then to a standard outpatient program and a sober living residence program. Other recovery settings include services that take place outside of the treatment program or those that follow treatment, such as peer support groups and family and community supports.

There Is Hope

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration stresses that hope is the foundation of recovery. Hope is the belief that a better future is possible.

Dual diagnosis treatment works for most people who engage with their treatment plan and stay in treatment for an adequate amount of time -anything less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Dual diagnosis treatment helps with the development of the skills, strategies, and techniques you need for successful long-term recovery from both a mental illness and a substance use disorder. It can help improve your quality of life by leaps and bounds and find joy and happiness in your life once and for all. Treatment works, and it can work for you, too.


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