What is Alcohol Abuse and Dual Diagnosis?
Alcohol abuse is a serious problem.
Dual diagnosis is common.
Understanding these things is a must.
Alcoholism causes a lot of complications. One of the most common and most difficult complications to deal with is a dual diagnosis. This is when a patient has one or several mental health conditions in addition to their alcohol addiction. This is also referred to as a co-occurring disorder. Other terms for dual diagnosis are comorbidities, and co-morbid disorders.
Dual diagnosis is possible with any mental health condition. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are among the most common ones. If a person has a dual diagnosis, it becomes much more challenging for them to recover from their addiction.
Dual diagnosis is extremely common too. Alcoholics have a much higher risk of suffering from a mental health condition compared to non-alcoholics. Similarly, someone with a mental health condition is more likely to develop alcoholism than someone without a mental health disorder.
In fact, approximately 7.9 million Americans have a dual diagnosis of substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health disorder. Alcohol is by far the most commonly abused substance among this population.
Alcohol and mental health disorders have a very close and complex relationship. Many individuals who are struggling with mental health problems often turn to alcohol to try and cope with their distress. On the other hand, many alcoholics also develop mental health problems as they spiral towards addiction. It easily turns into a destructive cycle.
Research even suggests that alcoholism can cause certain mental health conditions, particularly depression. However, further studies need to be conducted. It is worth noting that alcohol use can indeed make the symptoms of many mental health conditions worse. Drinking can make the symptoms manifest more often and more severely.
Although in the past, alcoholism and mental health were rarely treated together, this is no longer the case. Medical professionals have a better understanding of the connection between these two conditions.
Getting Help For Addiction
Almost 18 percent of Americans suffer from some form of anxiety at one point in their life. Alcohol is one of the ways people cope with their anxiety because it helps them relax and reduce their inhibitions—albeit temporarily. It also makes them more confident and more sociable while under the influence. What most people don’t realize is that alcohol generally makes anxiety worse over time, especially because alcohol-influenced decisions often put individuals in high anxiety situations.
Depression is also a very common dual diagnosis for alcoholics. In fact, it is the most frequent dual diagnosis present alongside alcoholism. Depressed individuals frequently turn to alcohol to help deal with symptoms of their condition such as sadness, hopelessness, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts. But just like in anxiety, the long term effects of alcohol abuse only worsen the effects of depression.
Bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse are very frequently paired. Studies have concluded that the majority of bipolar sufferers develop addiction issues at some point in their lives, of which alcohol is the most common. Alcohol use during manic phases is especially risky because it fuels the reckless and careless behavior associated with mania. It puts the patient at risk of alcohol poisoning, especially if they drink excessively during their manic phase.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is also very common among those with alcohol abuse issues. Approximately 25 percent of OCD sufferers also deal with alcohol use disorder. It appeals to OCD patients because alcohol takes their focus away from their symptoms and distracts them. However, alcohol actually makes OCD symptoms worse over time.
For all of these mental health conditions, it is entirely possible for patients to develop addiction over time.
Mental health problems have different symptoms, but there are a few symptoms that are shared by many. Here are some common warning signs to look out for when dealing with a dual diagnosis: reduced energy, lack of motivation, changes in appetite, sudden weight gain or loss, isolation from family and friends, difficulty concentrating and completing tasks, irritability, and mood swings.
Treatment for Dual Diagnosis
The presence of any dual diagnosis condition makes treatment of alcoholism more complicated. At the same time, alcoholism makes treatment for any mental health condition more challenging. And because the symptoms of alcohol abuse and many mental health conditions are so similar, it is often very difficult to even diagnose a patient until they have stopped using alcohol.
Both alcoholism and the mental health condition must be treated concurrently. This will help reduce the symptoms of both. The less the individual drinks, the less severe their symptoms will be. They will effectively break the cycle.
Rehab programs are designed to teach patients healthy coping mechanisms while also helping them manage their symptoms. There are plenty of therapy options for treating dual diagnosis conditions and alcoholism. Some of the therapy options include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, holistic therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and faith-based treatment.
If someone in the family is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against substance abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.
Rehab is Your Best Chance
Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.