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Dual diagnosis, also known as a co-occurring disorder, is a condition in which an individual has both a mental health illness as well as a substance use disorder simultaneously. Many people that have mental health disorders aren’t properly medicated, and this can lead to self-medication in order to relieve their symptoms. Here are the most common combinations of mental health disorders and substance use addictions.

Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol

Bipolar Disorder (BD) is a mental health illness in which an individual experiences severe and instant shifts in their mood, energy, and their behavior. Typically, people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder have more relationship problems, more economic problems, and are more prone to suicide. Overall, there are 4 major types of Bipolar Disorders, including mania, depression, mixed episodes, and hypomania. Because of the severe effects BD poses, many of those affected turn to alcohol in order to ease their symptoms of BD. According to a 2013 review, 45% of people with Bipolar Disorder also have alcohol use disorder.

Anxiety and Cocaine

Anxiety is a mental health disorder that’s characterized by worrisome feelings as well as fear. These feelings of worry and fear are typically strong enough to impair an individual’s daily life. Because of the severe effects that anxiety poses on diagnosed individuals, many of them turn to cocaine to relieve the symptoms. Not only this, but this self-medication of using cocaine to relieve anxiety is caused by a lack of real treatment for their condition. Cocaine is a substance that’s commonly snorted to enhance a person’s mood and energy. About 25% of teenagers are known to have anxiety, and about 6% of teenagers reported that they have used cocaine at one point in their lives.

PTSD and Opioid Addiction

PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and it’s a disorder in which an individual has a difficult time recovering both physically and mentally after they’ve experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Examples of traumatic events that may cause PTSD include a natural disaster, a serious accident, war or combat, rape, or other violent personal assaults. Typically, when you’re in danger, your brain prepares for this danger by altering its chemicals. This results in your blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and your body temperature to rise. In addition to this, your focus and attention levels also rise. This altering of chemicals is designed to help us respond properly to danger. Unfortunately, when this stress response continues when it’s not necessary for your body to be protected from any dangers, then you may be diagnosed with PTSD.

Many individuals that are diagnosed with PTSD turn to opioids in order to escape the symptoms they experience from having PTSD. More specifically, the high stress levels assocaited with PTSD are typically the reason why these individuals turn to opioids for relief. Opioids may temporarily relieve PTSD symptoms and can relieve individuals of their painful memories for a short period of time, but they’re not a healthy or a long-term choice for receiving treatment for PTSD. Opioids are pain-relieving drugs that are dangerous in high doses, since they lower your breathing as well as your heart rate. Opioids can even result in your death if you’ve consumed too much.

Depression and Heroin Addiction

Depression is a mental health disorder that is characterized by an individual having a depressed mood or even loss of interest in activities that they were previously interested in. These moods and behaviors usually cause impairment to an individual’s daily life. Because of the negative as well as severe effects that depression can have on an individual, many people diagnosed with depression turn to heroin to relieve their depressive symptoms. In fact, 48% of heroin users have experienced depression in their lives.

Heroin is a powerful opiate that alters the brain’s chemistry and causes mood changes, suicidal behavior, addiction, and even psychological dependence. Unfortunately, heroin actually worsens the depressive symptoms that depressed individuals experience because the psychological effects of heroin contribute to depression, rather than relieve them. These depressive symptoms include a negative mood, low energy, suicidal thoughts, social isolation, and anxiety.

Overall, it can be mentally exhausting to treat and overcome a mental health disorder alone. But when coupled with a substance use disorder, it can be even more difficult. That’s why it’s important for you to receive dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorder treatment. There are treatments available, and there are multiple treatment centers willing to help. A mental health disorder must be treated separately and are just as important as a substance use disorder. So receiving specialized dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorder treatment is highly recommended and highly possible if you reach out.