Dual Diagnosis What Is Dual Diagnosis? If you’re struggling with both a substance abuse issue, such as a drug addiction, and another mental disorder, like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, you have what’s known as a dual diagnosis, or a co-occurring disorder. Dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorder, is very common for example, the majority of people suffering from depression also develop issues with drugs and alcohol. Luckily, you’re not trapped. You have options–and we can help you find them. Recognizing the Problem If you’re suffering from substance abuse as well as an underlying mental disorder, some of this probably already sounds familiar. Virtually everyone dealing with addiction has some kind of underlying problem that contributes to their relationship with substances and addiction. It might be something less serious, such as work-related stress, or it could be a serious problem such as clinical depression, which requires treatment in the form of therapy, medication, or both. So how do you know if your struggles with substance abuse, or the struggles of your loved one, are linked to another disorder? Although you can review your own symptoms to see whether they match up with a common diagnosis, trying to diagnose yourself with information gathered from the Internet or from friends is usually not ideal. Ultimately, only a professional can properly diagnose you to determine whether you’re suffering from a disorder in addition to your struggle with addiction. Self-Medicating: Common But One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone. But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t be amount to effective treatment. Treatment and Recovery: Treating a Dual Diagnosis Understanding your dual diagnosis is especially important so that you can determine the course of your recovery. Dealing with multiple diagnoses may make your situation appear dire or even hopeless, but it never is–help is available, and recovery is possible. Know that it’s absolutely critical that you or your loved one provide all available information with any doctors or therapists who’ll be assisting in your treatment and recovery. If only one of your diagnoses is treated, but the other is left unresolved, it’s much less likely that your recovery will be lasting and complete. Your dual diagnoses (or co-occurring disorders) are not two separate problems that can be dealt with one at a time: they’re inextricably linked, and working with one will help you to solve the other.