Dual Diagnosis – What does it mean?

Dual diagnosis refers to when diagnosed mental health issues occur at the same time as drug or alcohol dependence. It means that an individual has been diagnosed with more than one condition. Stress, trauma and genetics are some of the common risk factors that play a role in the development of mental health conditions and substance use disorders. When these risk factors are present, the possibility of dual diagnosis is increased.

One of the challenges with understanding dual diagnosis is a bit of a “chicken or egg” scenario. Determining which came first is hard. It can be extremely difficult to ascertain if one caused the other, and/or which one started it (if any).

Some mental health conditions can alter a person’s brain by increasing the rewarding effects of substances. On the other hand, some substances can also cause changes in the brain that may create an increased risk of developing a mental health disorder.

Who provides a dual diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis is usually identified by a psychiatrist or psychologist. The health professional evaluates their patient by developing an understanding of the evolution and onset of presenting symptoms.

How does a dual diagnosis impact addiction treatment?

There may be an increased complexity to treatment and recovery for dual diagnosis patients. It is important that all aspects of an individual’s diagnosis are addressed with a tailored program that addresses their needs and incorporates a holistic approach to creating an individualised treatment framework.

Treatment needs to be designed to effectively help control and understand each piece of the puzzle, with due consideration given to how all the diagnoses may impact one another. This can be challenging and requires an experienced treatment team to manage it effectively.

At Arrow Health, our qualified and professional team take the time to understand the complex nature of your dual diagnosis so as to structure a treatment program that focuses on helping you be the best version of yourself. We provide services that can respond to both addiction disorders as well as mental health conditions. Please contact us to discuss your individual treatment plan.