Dual Diagnosis: Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness

A dual diagnosis is when an alcohol or drug addiction is coupled with at least one mental illness such as depression or anxiety. For effective treatment of alcoholism or drug addiction, the mental health disorder must be treated as well. There is no need for shame. There are millions in your shoes if you suffer from a dual diagnosis and treatment for both the mental illness and addiction can make a big difference in your recovery.

The Dual Diagnosis

It may be a little frightening or confusing to receive a dual diagnosis. First things first, dual diagnoses are quite common and they’re in fact much more common among women than they are with men. Just as therapy is meant to discover all of the factors contributing to addiction in a client’s life, an assessment to discover if any other mental health issues exist is a big part of the healing process. Often the symptoms of a mental illness can contribute to relapses if not addressed. A dual diagnosis can be treated, and the symptoms can be reduced and managed with proper care.

Treatment Methods

The treatment methods for a dual diagnosis will vary depending on the type of mental illnesses diagnosed. Prescription medication may be prescribed for some conditions such as bipolar disorder or depression. Rehab centers for women are often prepared to handle dual diagnoses due to the frequency of occurrence. Because the addiction is sometimes a result of a client having tried to cope with their feelings through alcohol or drugs, the mental illness must be addressed at the same time. In some cases it is the alcoholism or drug addiction that brings on the dual diagnosis for something such as anxiety.

The Fight Against Stigma

Recent changes in the country due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are helping to remove some of the stigma that exists towards mental illness. Priority for mental health care has moved up to a level of importance much closer to that of medical health care, which in itself speaks volumes for how widespread the problems are. There is help out there for preventing certain mental health disorders, managing others and in some cases, nearly eliminating its presence altogether.

Mental health care should now be much more affordable and readily available to millions more Americans. As part of the ACA, teaching professionals will also learn how to look for signs of mental illness in children for early detection and care.

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