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Early Signs of a Dual Diagnosis

People in group therapy session talking about the early signs of a dual diagnosis

Having a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders means that you have both a mental health condition and a substance use disorder (SUD). Either disorder can develop first. Dual diagnosis is prevalent. Research indicates that nearly half of people with a mental health condition also have SUD, and vice versa.

Co-occurring disorders feed off of and worsen one another, creating a cycle that is nearly impossible to break without integrated dual diagnosis treatment. At Ashwood Recovery, our treatment professionals are experts at identifying and correctly diagnosing co-occurring disorders and determining the best course of treatment. Contact our team online or call 888.341.3607 to learn about our outpatient dual diagnosis treatment options.

Understanding Dual Diagnosis Signs

Depending on several factors, the signs of a dual diagnosis can look different for everybody. To understand the signs, you must first understand a dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis is any combination of co-occurring physical, behavioral, or mental health conditions.

Dual diagnosis most commonly refers to a combination of SUD and mental health conditions. Common examples include:

  • Anxiety and prescription drug abuse
  • Alcohol addiction and depression
  • Opioid addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Stimulant addiction and eating disorders
  • Meth addiction and psychosis

The overlapping symptoms of these conditions make it challenging to identify which symptoms are related to which condition. Without proper diagnosis, one condition may be overlooked and left untreated. When this happens, individuals often become stuck in a cycle of chronic relapse.

Identifying the Early Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis

Identifying the early warning signs of dual diagnosis is crucial for timely intervention and appropriate treatment. The following are some potential early warning signs:

  • Changes in behavior – Look for sudden mood swings, increased irritability, withdrawal from social activities, and disrupted sleep patterns like insomnia or oversleeping.
  • Substance use – Increased frequency or amount of substance use, with failed attempts to reduce usage and a noticeable rise in tolerance.
  • Mental health symptoms – Persistent sadness, anxiety, or hopelessness, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and unexplained changes in cognition or perception.
  • Physical health changes – Watch for unexplained weight or appetite changes, frequent illnesses, poor hygiene, or neglect in personal appearance.
  • Relationship problems – Challenges in maintaining healthy relationships, increased conflicts, and a tendency toward social isolation.
  • Occupational or academic problems – Declining performance at work or school, frequent absenteeism, and neglect of responsibilities.
  • Financial difficulties – Frequent financial troubles often related to substance spending, leading to neglected financial responsibilities.
  • Legal problems – Legal issues, such as arrests, are often related to substance use or illegal activities.
  • Denial or lack of insight – Unwillingness to recognize the severity of issues, resistance to seeking help, and minimizing the impact on daily life.

It is important to note that not everyone will exhibit all of these signs. Further, these signs do not confirm a dual diagnosis but can indicate the need for a thorough professional assessment.

What Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Dual diagnosis treatment is an integrated approach that focuses on educating patients about how co-occurring disorders affect one another and impact overall functioning and well-being. At Ashwood Recovery, dual diagnosis treatment involves a combination of evidence-based and holistic therapies to promote the healing of the mind, body, and spirit.

Based on your diagnosis, circumstances, and needs, treatment may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Psychoeducational therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR)
  • Trauma-informed therapy
  • Exercise therapy
  • Meditation therapy
  • Person-centered therapy
  • Neurofeedback therapy

Because everyone is different and co-occurring disorders vary greatly, individualized treatment planning is essential to successful dual diagnosis treatment. At Ashwood Recovery, we recognize and understand the need for integrated treatment that addresses both disorders simultaneously.

Start on the Road to Recovery with Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Ashwood Recovery Today

At Ashwood Recovery, our compassionate and experienced team can provide an accurate diagnosis and ensure you receive the treatment needed for recovery. If you think you or a loved one is struggling with a dual diagnosis, contact our team online or call 888.341.3607 to get help today.