Comorbidity occurs when a person suffers two or more mental illness concurrently. It is a difficult diagnosis to make but studying co-occurring diseases and how they affect an individual has helped doctors to better understand the complexity of these illnesses. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA) estimates that over 17 million Americans are affected with a Dual Diagnosis. This is roughly 8 percent of the population. In fact, you may not even realize that someone has a Dual Diagnosis until you are perhaps faced with it or that person’s actions spiral out of control.
Who Is Affected
Having two mental illnesses simultaneously can happen to anyone. Genetics and preexisting mental illness are determinants of this, as well as gender. It is estimated that men are generally more likely to have substance abuse and mental health issues than women. Men and women are more vulnerable to certain mental illnesses as well, with studies concluding that men are more likely to have antisocial disorders while women are more prone to depression and anxiety disorders.
Studies have also shown that those with mood, panic or personality disorders are anywhere between two to five times more likely to also have substance abuse problems. A report by DrugFree.org compiled findings by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and concluded that approximately 16.7 percent of the general population will, over a lifetime, develop substance abuse issues. Some of the top mental illnesses associated with substance abuse are:
- Anxiety and panic disorders such as GAD (general anxiety disorder)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Mood disorders such as depression
Drugs of choice have changed as well for Dual Diagnosis patients. Alcohol was the most widely used substance among individuals in the 1990s. Perhaps due to its social acceptance and prevalence in our society, alcohol is likely to be a top candidate when identifying substance abuse and addiction. Painkillers, however, and other prescription drugs, have become more and more popular as go-to drugs for Dual Diagnosis patients. The use of prescription drugs among patients with co-occurring disorders has risen steadily since 2000, with the rate hiking from 13 to 21 percent in recent years.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Of those affected with a Dual Diagnosis, only a fraction get the proper treatment they need. Some seek solely the help of addiction counselors, while others seek mental help. It appears that few seek treatment for both addiction and mental illness. A study by the SAMHSA noted that of 3 million employed Americans over the age of 18, less than 5 percent received professional assistance for a Dual Diagnosis. Even fewer enrolled in drug rehabilitation (2 percent), and 34 percent sought mental help. Treatment trends seem to be increasing in a positive direction, however. The same organization found that in a six-year period between1995 to 2001, enrollment in treatment facilities increased from 28 to 44 percent.
What This Means for You
There is good news in the world of Dual Diagnosis. Doctors and researchers are conducting more studies now than ever before on this elusive pairing of mental illness and addiction. Little used to be known about comorbidity, but each day more information is discovered that helps us better understand condition.
A Dual Diagnosis is a serious affliction that affects much of our population. Do not be among the large number of individuals who do not seek help. If you or someone you love has a Dual Diagnosis and needs treatment, call us here at The Oaks at La Paloma today. Our professionals are experienced in Dual Diagnosis recovery plans and will help you choose the treatment option that is right for you. Don’t wait; call us today.