Anxiety, depression, and numerous other mental health associated illnesses are becoming a silent and swiftly spreading epidemic in society, yet little attention is paid to the link between mental health and substance abuse. Sadly, most treatment facilities deal with one issue, often ignoring the second side of the problem, thus never really helping the program participant to heal the underlying issues that exacerbated the problem in the first place. There is a solution for fighting substance abuse and mental health problems together. It’s called a dual diagnosis.
Two For One
Dealing with a mental health concern can be difficult, and you may feel overwhelmed. You may have been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, mania, depression, or social anxiety, and as you begin to come to terms with that side of your emotional, mental, and psychological makeup, you can begin treatment and feel better for a short while. But, just like so many other individuals across society, if you don’t realize you may have a second challenge, the first problem can never really be healed, and the second issue is all too ready to rear its ugly head as you begin fighting the first.
The problem is that each disorder has its own symptoms, own way of allowing you to live your life and own reaction to the stressors of your life. As each of the disorders is unique and complicated to deal with, if one is unnoticed or not addressed, they will only flair back up again together, because over time the disorders can become dependent upon one another as you learn to handle the difficulties and aggravations life throws at you. In other words, the disorders are codependent and thrive off the complicated situations created by one another. You can not fix one without realizing the other is also a problem, so if you stop drinking, you will still be depressed. If you begin treatment for depression, you will still drink. Slowly, over time, most people find they revert to the comfort of the duality of their codependent disorders.
Discovering there are two issues to deal with can be difficult. Co-Occurring substance abuse and mental health disorder have very similar symptoms and signs that can deftly hide one another. But one of the biggest problems is that mental health professionals are trained to look for mental health problems, not joint or codependent disorders. If someone experiencing more than one issue only admits or accepts he or she has one problem, recovery can become complicated because denial can often hide bigger obstacles such as shame or fear.