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Most Common Dual Diagnoses

Addiction is often precipitated or compounded by another mental health issue. This is known as a dual diagnosis and it may apply to half of people seeking addiction treatment. Dual diagnoses can be challenging and require special care. If you take medication for a mental health issue, for example, that may affect what medications can be administered during detox. Mental health issues complicate other areas of treatment and recovery as well.

In dual diagnoses, the mental health issue typically comes before the addiction. Overall, about half of people with mental health issues will also have problems with substance abuse. Addiction often worsens mental health issues, and in some cases, causes them. Prolonged cocaine, addiction, for example, can engender anxiety and paranoia. The following conditions are particularly common in people seeking treatment for addiction.

Depression. Depression is the most common mental health issue in the US. It presents a particular challenge to addiction recovery because someone in a depressive episode either doesn’t care about recovering or doesn’t think recovery is possible.

Anxiety. Anxiety disorders are also extremely common. People dealing with anxiety often have trouble with socializing or sleeping. They tend to prefer drugs that calm them down, like alcohol or benzos.

Post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms of PTSD include anxiety, obsessiveness, and intense nightmares. Like people struggling with generalized anxiety, people with PTSD usually want something to bring them down or help them sleep.

Bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by massive swings between depression and mania. Bipolar disorder is typically associated with alcoholism.

ADHD. The standard treatment for ADHD is stimulants, particularly Adderall, which is an amphetamine. People medicated for ADHD develop a physical dependence, which, ideally, remains carefully controlled. The medication often interferes with sleep and they may use alcohol to counter the effect.

Antisocial personality disorder. This undermines the formation of strong social bonds that can protect against addiction. Antisocial personality disorder often leads to alcoholism, which can make the condition worse.

Schizophrenia. As with other mental health issues, as many has half of people with schizophrenia may abuse drugs. Cigarette smoking is common and may actually relieve some symptoms.

It is sometimes true that people self-medicate, or that the addiction causes the mental health issue, but more often there is a complex interplay. They may have a common cause, as with PTSD, or they may erode protective factors, as with depression or antisocial personality. Mental health issues are typically complicated in themselves, so even these are overgeneralizations. It’s important to treat the mental health issue along with the addiction because an episode of depression or anxiety often leads to relapse.

Gardens Wellness Center has the resources to treat dual diagnoses. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.