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News Library

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dual Diagnosis

An undiagnosed substance abuse problem may be a barrier to effective treatment of mental illness.

Dual Diagnosis: An undiagnosed substance abuse problem may be a barrier to effective treatment of mental illness.

Dual diagnosis refers to the co-occurrence of substance abuse with a mental illness. Substance abuse is a common problem among people with mental illness and, if undiagnosed, can interfere with treatment and recovery. 

How common is it?

Mental illness and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand. They may occur at the same time, or one may develop before the other, in any case, it is important to recognize both conditions in order to effect the best possible treatment outcome. 

According to the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration a significant percentage of the 1.5 to 2 million Americans with severe mental illness abuse substances, as compared to the general population.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that of all people diagnosed with a mental illness, 29% abuse either alcohol or other drugs. Thirty-seven percent of alcohol abusers and 53% of drug abusers also have a serious mental illness.

In any twelve-month period, an estimated 10 million people throughout the United States have a combination of at least one mental health and substance use disorder. (SAMSHA)

People with serious mental illness are 4-5 times as likely to develop a substance abuse disorder as the general population. (SAMHSA) 

Co-occurring substance use and mental disorders can occur at any age. Research suggests that as many as half of the adults who have a diagnosable mental disorder will also have a substance use disorder at some point during their lifetime. (President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health)

A National Association of Mental Health study shows the increased risk for substance abuse for the following psychiatric disorders:

Increased risk of substance abuse
Antisocial personality disorder: 15.5%
Manic episode: 14.5%
Schizophrenia: 10.1%
Panic disorder: 4.3%
Major depressive episode: 4.1%
Obsessive compulsive disorder: 3.4%
Phobias: 2.4%

Why is it so common?

When someone suffers from a mental illness, it is not uncommon for the sufferer to self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs to ease the symptoms. As use becomes more frequent, the person can become dependent upon the substance. Conversely, substance abuse can trigger symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychosis or suicidal thoughts. In addition, substance abuse which begins in adolescence and continues into disorders (NAMI).

If you or someone you know suffers from both a mental illness and substance abuse, let us help. Hope is just a phone call away. Call 573-860-1601 or 573-860-1602