When a patient presents with symptoms of both a substance abuse disorder and a mental health disorder, they are living with a Dual Diagnosis. The pair of issues can be comprised of any combination (e.g., alcoholism and depression, painkiller dependence and anxiety disorder, marijuana addiction and bipolar disorder, etc.) and in most cases, the symptoms and issues related to one can worsen the issues of the other.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) regularly publishes studies exploring different causes, effects, and treatment options related to Dual Diagnosis. Some of the facts and stats they have found include:
- It is estimated that about 17.5 million Americans over the age of 18 (or 8 percent of the adult population) had a serious mental health disorder in the past year. Of these, about 4 million people also struggled with a co-occurring drug or alcohol dependency.
- In the span of six years, the percentage of patients in drug rehab seeking help for addiction issues who were also diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder increased from 12 percent to 16 percent.
- Dual Diagnosis patients are very often functional in the workforce. In fact, it is estimated that among those who are employed fulltime, about 10.6 percent dealt with a substance abuse problem, another 10.2 percent struggled with a serious psychological issue, and 2.4 percent were diagnosed with both a mental health issue and a drug abuse problem.
- Employed men were twice as likely as employed women to have struggled with a drug abuse or addiction issue in the past year (13.2 percent as compared to 6.9 percent), but employed women were almost twice as likely to have dealt with serious mental health issues in the past year (14.2 percent as compared to 7.3 percent).
- More than 50 percent of those living with a Dual Diagnosis did not receive any medical treatment or psychotherapeutic intervention to help them progress in their recovery.
- Of the almost 3 million adults employed and living with a Dual Diagnosis, only about 40 percent received any treatment intervention at all for either disorder and less than 5 percent received treatment for both issues.
- Too often, those living with a Dual Diagnosis receive treatment for only one of their ailments. It is estimated that of the adults living with co-occurring disorders, 34 percent receive mental health treatment, 2 percent enroll in drug rehab, and 12 percent get the help they need for both disorders.
- More men than women are diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, but the percentage of females living with a Dual Diagnosis has increased in recent years. Between 1995 and 2001, the proportion of women admitted into Dual Diagnosis treatment programs increased from 28 percent to 44 percent.
- In the 1990s, alcohol was the primary drug of choice for more than 50 percent of Dual Diagnosis patients. Since the turn of the millennium, that trend has slowly shifted downward: Alcohol is the primary substance of abuse for 45 percent of Dual Diagnosis patients (down from 51 percent) and 38 percent of all other substance-abusing patients (down from 45 percent).
- The biggest increase in use for any one substance in the 2000s has been prescription painkillers. About 21 percent of Dual Diagnosis patients are addicted to prescription opiates like OxyContin, Percocet, Lortab and others (up from 13 percent).
If someone you love is diagnosed with both a mental health issue and a drug abuse or addiction disorder, don’t wait to seek the comprehensive care they need to heal. Call us today to find the program that is right for your loved one.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton