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Dual Findings

In many cases, certain conditions of people could push them to do certain behaviors that could also posses a problematic effect onto them most especially with their health. Somehow, substance abuse could possibly be a byproduct of a certain psychiatric disorder. A person afflicted with an anxiety disorder could also become addicted to oxycontin, which is able to give the person a relaxing feeling. Make sense?

The term dual diagnosis is defined as the co-occurrence of a mental illness and substance-abuse problem in a person. People who experience this phenomena often face a wide range of psychosocial issues and may experience multiple interacting illnesses. With dual diagnosis, both illnesses may affect the person physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. The two illnesses interact with one another. The illnesses may exacerbate each other and each disorder predisposes to relapse in the other disease. At times the symptoms can overlap and even mask each other making diagnosis and treatment very hard.

Several theories have been formulated to explain the relationship between psychiatric disorders and substance abuse problems. Causality theory suggests that certain types of substance abuse can causally lead to mental illness. Upon studying the causes of schizophrenia, it has been found that cannabis usage could causally develop schizophrenia. Moreover, the self-medication theory suggests that people with severe mental illness misuse substances in order to relieve a specific set of symptoms and counteract the side-effects of antipsychotic medication. Certain studies illustrate that nicotine could be effective for reducing motor side-effects of antipsychotics. Similarly, the alleviation of dysphoria theory suggests that people with severe mental illness commonly feels bad about themselves and that this makes them susceptible to using psychoactive substances to alleviate these feelings.

Dual diagnosis presents a major problem because most of the time it is only one of the two interacting illnesses is identified. Furthermore, the patient tends to be in denial with one of the illnesses. An individual diagnosed with a mental disorder may be in denial about the drinking or substance abuse. Or, the other way around could occur. The apparent substance abuse could hide the mental disorder. Therapists, psychiatrists, and professional counselors are having a difficult time identifying both illnesses due to psychiatric symptoms may be covered up by alcohol or drug use. In addition, alcohol or drug use, or withdrawal from alcohol or other drugs can mimic or give the appearance of some psychiatric illnesses. Also, untreated chemical addiction could add to a reoccurrence of psychiatric symptoms, and untreated psychiatric illness could contribute to an alcohol or drug relapse.

One alcoholic from America shared that society can be a problem because alcoholism is not seen as an illness. Moreover, it looks like that they do not recognize how ineffective it is to treat one illness but not the other. Medical professionals have the tendency to prescribe antidepressants to their patients without screening them for substance abuse. The addict/alcoholic whose depression is not treated will continue to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Those with depression whose substance abuse is not detected will get sicker because alcohol is a depressant and with every sip they are throwing gasoline on their simmering epression. Consequently, it is very hard for these people to come across appropriate treatment. Most substance-abuse centers do not accept people with serious psychiatric disorders and many psychiatric centers do not have the expertise with substance abuse.

Treatment of the two disorders should be integrated, not separate, and should be a collaborative decision-making process between the treatment team and the patient.

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