Dual diagnosis is a term for when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance abuse problem simultaneously. Either substance abuse or mental illness can develop first. A person experiencing a mental health condition may turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication to improve the troubling mental health symptoms they experience. Abusing substances can also lead to mental health problems because of the effects drugs have on a person’s moods, thoughts, brain chemistry, and behavior.
The defining characteristic of dual diagnosis is that both a mental health and substance abuse disorder occur simultaneously. Because there are many combinations of disorders that can occur, the symptoms of dual diagnosis vary widely. The symptoms of substance abuse may include:
The most common method of treatment for dual diagnosis today is integrated interventions, where a person receives care for both a specific mental illness and substance abuse.
See more at NAMI Website
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