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Dual Diagnosis Symptoms: How to Get Help

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There have never been as many effective tools available to diagnose substance use disorders and mental illnesses as there are today. There is a growing awareness of these issues, catapulting more people into doctors’ and therapists’ offices looking for help. Both of these reasons have led to a dramatic increase in the number of Americans who have been diagnosed with substance use disorders and mental illnesses. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 40 million people in the United States were living with a substance use disorder in 2020 alone. SAMHSA also found that nearly 53 million Americans had a mental illness in the same year. For many of these individuals, they experience both conditions simultaneously, prompting the onset of dual diagnosis symptoms. 

What is Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis is the clinical term used to describe the experience of having both a substance use disorder and a mental illness simultaneously. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that 45% of Americans have a dual diagnosis. There are a number of reasons why dual diagnosis occurs, ranging from family history of substance abuse and/or mental illness to self-esteem issues. When living with a dual diagnosis that is untreated, the issues that develop in response to both conditions begin creating a toxic pattern that can feel impossible to escape from. While dual diagnosis is not a condition that can be cured, it can be treated. By addressing the dual diagnosis symptoms one is experiencing, plus their personal history, professionals can begin employing the appropriate treatment methods that can bring individuals much-needed relief. 

Dual Diagnosis Symptoms

Substance use disorders and mental health disorders come with their own specific sets of symptoms. Someone with depression is not going to share the exact same symptoms as someone with borderline personality disorder. Someone who is addicted to opioids will not exhibit all the same symptoms as someone addicted to methamphetamines. Despite the many differences that these conditions can have, there are several similarities. Those who grapple with a dual diagnosis most commonly experience the following symptoms:

  • Sudden changes in behavior or personality
  • Difficulty getting enough sleep or sleeping too much
  • Changes in diet, such as eating more or less than normal
  • Continuing to abuse substances despite the negative consequences that can result
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and loved ones 
  • Needing mind-altering substances in order to function
  • Participating in risky behaviors
  • Experiencing thoughts of suicide or making attempts at it

These dual diagnosis symptoms are often the most noticeable and common across all individuals. There are other more specific dual diagnosis symptoms that can develop, prompting even more need to reach out for help. Allowing a dual diagnosis to continue without obtaining any professional intervention can lead to more serious symptoms and consequences, up to and including death.

How to Get Help for Dual Diagnosis 

There is no shame in having a substance use disorder, a mental illness, or a dual diagnosis. As mentioned before, nearly half of the American population has a dual diagnosis. The most important thing that someone with a dual diagnosis can do is seek the appropriate care.

If you are experiencing a dual diagnosis, you might be wondering, “how do I get help?” Thankfully, there are a number of steps you can take so that you can start feeling better.

Talk to Your Doctor

Your doctor’s office can be the first point of contact when it comes to getting help for your dual diagnosis. By simply scheduling an appointment, you can speak to your doctor about your dual diagnosis symptoms and share any additional concerns you have about your situation. While your doctor cannot prescribe you medication to make everything go away, they can offer you referrals to the appropriate treatment providers who can help. 

Tell a Loved One

Many people who experience a dual diagnosis try to keep what they are going through under wraps. This is common because individuals can develop a great sense of shame and guilt associated with substance use disorders and mental illnesses. However, allowing yourself to continue to hide what you are going through will only make matters more complicated. Tell a loved one what you have been experiencing. Getting everything off your chest and inviting in the support of a loved one can serve as a catalyst for effective care. 

Contact a Treatment Center

If you are able, contact a couple of treatment centers and talk with them about their treatment options. If you need some help accomplishing this, ask a friend or loved one to help out. When speaking with a treatment center, you can learn about what they provide. They can also help you determine your needs level when it comes to care. Going straight to the source can help you get on the path to meaningful recovery.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Santa Ana, CA

Dual diagnosis symptoms can make living life extremely difficult. As these symptoms continue to intensify, getting any form of help can seem pointless. No matter where you are in your dual diagnosis battle, there’s never a wrong time to reach out for help. 

At Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Santa Ana, CA, we offer a number of services geared towards helping individuals like yourself overcome the challenges of dual diagnosis. If you are ready to get on the road to recovery, contact us right now by calling (949) 426-7962 or visiting our website by clicking here. Do not wait any longer to get the help you need and deserve. 

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