The problem of dual diagnosis between the diseases of addiction and the diseases of mental illness have a comorbidity rate of 53% and climbing each year. One newer study suggests the rate of this comorbidity of both illnesses is actually closer to 2/3rds of people with depression who also have substance abuse/addiction problems. The connection between those who have addiction and are depressed is so strong that people are quick to believe and perceive that it is the addiction which is causing the depression. There are 3 types of groups which are studied under the Mental Health & Drug Abuse Coalition.
The 1st, is people who have depression or other mental illness, may seek help but find what they are given is not working, so they begin to experiment with other ways to alleviate their symptoms, such as alcohol and drugs, leading quickly to an addiction once the patient feels the substance has "cured" their symptoms. It is a phrase of "self-medicating: which originated in theory by a psychiatrist from Massachusetts in the 1970's. In this case it is shown that mental illness came first and thus the drug addiction came next.
The 2nd group is those who are people who are chronic drug abusers, ie: addicts. They use their drug of choice daily and over time, they begin to develop mental illness symptoms, causing them to then increase their use and making it very difficult to stop. This groups is difficult to access for treatment because they are usually so afraid of trying to seek treatment for mental illness, depression, because they do not want their addiction to be discovered. Certain drugs, almost all of them, including ecstasy, alcohol, opiates, methamphetamine, cocaine & more, have been shown in advanced clinical research scanning brains of addicts, with results showing that their drug use has directly caused malfunctions in major centers of the brain controlling impulse control & emotion regularity, reasoning, cognitive ability and many more. So this groups is usually called First came the Drugs, then came the Mental Illness.
The 3rd group of people are those who have co-occurring conditions ongoing. The drugs do not alleviate the depression, anxiety, or other mental illness symptoms quite well enough, and the substance abuse has already caused further damage to their brains in many areas, making it that they are the hardest group of patients to treat. They are also the ones seen most in seeking treatment for both illnesses, knowing very well they both exist at all times. The usually assert that their feelings of low mood, depression, anxiety, loneliness, bouts of crying, isolation, etc are directly the result of them stopping the drug itself, when in fact it is the mental illness caused by the changes in their brains from the drugs and since they have stopped using these drugs, the symptoms are now more present and bothersome than ever before.
When patients with dual-diagnosis are treated they have a fairly good rate of recovery IF they adhere to taking medications and make serious changes in their lifestyles. When you have such chronic drug abuse and depression it is hard for doctors to decipher which symptoms are causing the other so dual diagnosis treatment first is used to detoxify the patient from the drugs and stabilize them so they are not in pain. Once this is done they can begin to introduce therapeutic programs as well as medications for bipolar, depression, anxiety or any other mental illness, as is indicated. They are monitored closely throughout every 24 hour period, their vitals checked for stability, dosages changed daily if that needs to be done, and the patient upon release is given very specific and easy to follow directions for returning home. This typically includes an intake for an intensive outpatient program (IOP), meeting schedules, individual therapy set-up, follow up appointments with doctors and if needed, an appointment with a clinic for continued use of subutex or suboxone....