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Mental Illness, Substance Abuse, and an Accurate Dual Diagnosis

dual diagnosis, mental illness

An accurate dual diagnosis is necessary for anyone who has substance abuse issues and at least one form of mental illness. These cases tend to be more complex because there is more than one problem that needs to be diagnosed, evaluated, and treated. If the substance abuse is treated but the mental illness is overlooked, or the same in reverse, then the individual can not recover and lead a full life once more. Both problems must be diagnosed and treated at the same time in order for the individual to get better and start the recovery process. Before a dual diagnosis can be identified the physician or medical specialist must determine whether the mental illness symptoms caused the substance abuse or if the reverse is true.

Sometimes a mental illness can cause substance abuse because the individual tries to self medicate their mental disorder symptoms. Alcohol and drug abuse can cause mental illness to develop as well though, so before a dual diagnosis can be reached the health professional must determine which disorder came first, and whether that initial disorder led to the development of the second disorder. This allows the care provider to isolate the disorder which is the most serious, and ensure that all of the problems are addressed during the treatment plan. If one disorder is neglected then treatment will not be effective, and the individual will eventually be back in the same position in the future. All mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders must be identified, properly diagnosed, and then treated. This is the only way a full and complete recovery can occur.

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