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Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders
Alcohol and other drug abuse and addiction constitute major health and safety concerns in the United States, with costs running into the billions of dollars annually for health care, related injuries and loss of life, property destruction, loss of productivity and more. Treatment is proven to be effective, but very few who need it have access to and receive care. Private and public funding for treatment remains meager. Families are devastated and children are at increased risk for their own addiction and mental health problems.
For people struggling with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders, physical safety and overall health risks are greater; the impairment of life skills is greater; and the chances for successful treatment are much less - all of which contribute to stigma.
This area of the NMHA website is designed to assist mental health advocates in increasing their understanding of key issues in the area of substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. We are committed to providing accurate and timely materials and information about alcohol and other drug abuse and addiction to the advocates, consumer supporters and consumers in the mental health field.
If you have comments or questions about NMHA's work in the area of substance abuse/addiction, please contact:
Mental Health Information Center
Substance Abuse - Dual Diagnosis
What is Dual Diagnosis?
How Common Is Dual Diagnosis?
What Kind of Mental or Emotional Problems are Seen in People with Dual Diagnosis?
The following table based on a National Institute of Mental Health study, lists seven major psychiatric disorders and shows how much each one increases an individual's risk for substance abuse.
Thus, someone suffering from schizophrenia is at a 10.1 percent higher-than-average risk of being an alcoholic or drug abuser. Someone who is having an episode of major depression is at a 4.1 percent higher-than-average risk of being an alcohol or drug abuser...and so on.
Which Develops First - Substance Abuse or the Emotional Problem?
In other cases, alcohol or drug dependency is the primary condition. A person whose substance abuse problem has become severe may develop symptoms of a psychiatric disorder: perhaps episodes of depression, fits of rage, hallucinations, or suicide attempts.
How Can a Physician Tell Whether the Person's Primary Problem is Substance Abuse or an Emotional Disorder?
If a Person Does Have Both an Alcohol/Drug Problem and an Emotional Problem, Which Should Be Treated First?
Until recently, alcoholics and drug addicts dreaded detoxification because it meant a painful and sometimes life-threatening "cold turkey" withdrawal. Now, doctors are able to give hospitalized substance abusers carefully chosen medications which can substantially ease withdrawal symptoms. Thus, when detoxification is done under medical supervision, it's safer and less traumatic.
What Is Next After Detoxification?
Rehabilitation for a substance abuse problem usually involves individual and group psychotherapy, education about alcohol and drugs, exercise, proper nutrition, and participation in a 12-step recovery program such as Alcoholics Anonymous. The idea is not just to stay off booze and drugs, but to learn to enjoy life without these "crutches."
Treatment for a psychiatric problem depends upon the diagnosis. For most disorders, individual and group therapy as well as medications are recommended. Expressive therapies and education about the particular psychiatric condition are often useful adjuncts. A support group of other people who are recovering from the same condition may also prove highly beneficial. Adjunct treatment, such as occupational or expressive therapy, can help individuals better understand and communicate their feelings or develop better problem-solving or decision-making skills.
Must a Dual Diagnosis Patient Be Treated in a Hospital?
What is the Role of the Patient's Family in Treatment?
How Can Family and Friends Help with Recovery from the Substance Abuse?
When family and friends participate in the recovery program, they learn how to stop enabling. If they act on what they've learned, the recovering substance abuser is much less likely to relapse into drinking or taking drugs.
How Can Family and Friends Help with Recovery from a Psychiatric Condition?
If Someone I Know Appears To Have A Substance Abuse Problem And The Symptoms Of A Psychiatric Disorder, How Can I Help?
There Is Hope
The more you know about dual diagnosis, the more you will see how substance abuse can go hand-in-hand with another psychiatric condition. As with any illness, a person with dual diagnosis can improve once proper care is given. By seeking out information, you can learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of dual diagnosis - and help someone live a healthier or more fulfilling life.
Substance Abuse/Addictive Behavior
For More Information:
National Mental Health Association
Mental Health Resource Center
National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information
Dual Recovery Anonymous World Services Central Office
Narcotics Anonymous World Service Office in Los Angeles
Alanon and Alateen Family Group Headquarters Inc.
For more information about the National Mental Health Association or additional resources, please call 1-800-969-NMHA (6642) or visit our website resource center.
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