Dual Diagnosis: Alcoholism and Co-occurring Addictions

Breaking the Cycle-Alcoholism and Addiction Treatment-1

Table of Contents

Substance use disorder is a hot topic across the globe. Excessive alcohol consumption and substance abuse can often lead to binge drinking, alcohol misuse, and an eventual dependence on alcohol. Being addicted to alcohol and drugs can cause issues in physical, mental, and social aspects.


Issues related to alcohol and caused by alcohol are countless, as per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse. Alcohol problems span from fetal alcohol spectrum to dual diagnosis. Despite having many centers for disease control, alcohol withdrawal or stopping drinking altogether can be pretty challenging. The withdrawal symptoms can be hard, and smart recovery might not even be a possibility for some addicts.


So, as part of understanding the challenges brought in a person who drink too much alcohol or is a victim of excessive alcohol use, let’s learn a bit about the potential risk of alcohol addiction.


Among the many issues alcohol may cause, dual diagnosis occupies the primary position. Someone with an alcohol addiction or a high blood alcohol concentration is always at risk of dual diagnosis. Let’s learn some basics on the topic now.


Alcohol Addiction, Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Is Dual Diagnosis a Part of Alcohol Use Disorder?

Dual diagnosis is a severe condition associated with alcohol intake. The high alcohol content that regularly reaches one’s body can cause severe changes in the brain. The costs of excessive alcohol consumption can be pretty high. Along with the economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption, chronic alcohol use or heavy alcohol use can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, dual diagnosis, etc.


As per Mayo Clinic proceedings and alcohol drug information service, dual diagnosis is the condition in which chronic alcohol misuse causes a mental health disorder to exist alongside the alcohol use disorder. As per the authorities, dual diagnosis is primarily caused by alcohol misuse. Consuming a lot of alcohol gradually leads to problematic alcohol use, contributing to the risk of alcohol use disorder and dual diagnosis.


Alcohol Addiction, Alcohol Dependence, or Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder is a condition experienced by millions across the globe. The condition occurs when people find it difficult to control their consumption of alcohol. The addiction can go up to a point where they will start to need alcohol daily to function normally.


Dual Diagnosis: Is it Common in People with Alcohol Use Disorder?

As mentioned, dual diagnosis is a condition found in people who consume alcohol. Dual diagnosis means that alcohol use disorder and mental health disorder exist side by side. So, the term dual diagnosis means that the same person is diagnosed with dual conditions at the same time.


Substance abuse and mental health adversities are two peas in the same pod. A person preoccupied with alcohol can have a very difficult time leading a normal life. Alcohol can also disrupt the healthy social relations that a person has. Being a social being, it can get extremely difficult for a highly alcoholic person to lead a lonely life. This can often lead them to various complications of alcohol and mental health issues.


The mental health issues that are very commonly found in alcoholics include depression, anxiety, hallucinations, and many more. Unless an alcoholic stops or controls alcohol use or seeks professional help, the symptoms and causes can get much worse.


A diagnosis of alcohol use disorder and mental health issues needs to be handled with utmost care. Because together, they can worsen the physical and mental health of the addict.


Also, they can complement each other to continue in a loop. That is, severe alcohol drinking can slowly but gradually worsen the mental health of the addict. Likewise, poor mental health can encourage people to consume more alcohol.


Dual Diagnosis is, in fact, very common among individuals with alcohol abuse. Millions of people every year are diagnosed with both alcohol abuse and mental health adversities. It is also reported that unaddressed mental health issues can lead to alcohol use disorder relapse in previous addicts.


Treatment of alcoholism and dual diagnosis go hand in hand. The sole method to handle dual diagnosis is to reduce alcohol consumption. Experts in the health industry encourage alcohol addicts to seek help before worsening into a dual-diagnosis condition.

Breaking the Cycle-Alcoholism and Addiction Treatment
Dual Diagnosis: How To Identify?

It is possible to identify dual diagnosis in people with high consumption of alcohol. You only have to look for certain symptoms. As similar symptoms can occur in chronic alcoholics, too, try to base the final judgment on experts.


The most common symptoms seen in people with dual diagnosis are as follows.

  • Sudden behavior change
  • Sudden withdrawal from social circles
  • Lack of focus
  • General substance withdrawal symptoms
  • Inability to function without substance use
  • Severe mood changes
  • Suicidal tendency
  • Severe confusion in daily activities
Effects of Alcohol Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis can severely affect the normal life of the patient. They always stand the risk of alcohol intoxication. The high amount of alcohol these people consume can cause their physical health to decline significantly. The pattern of alcohol use in people with dual diagnosis will be highly alarming.


People with dual diagnosis might have a hard time controlling alcohol use despite adverse social experiences and issues. They will gradually develop a high tolerance to alcohol, which makes them essentially unaware of the problems with alcohol.


Dual-diagnosis patients also stand the chance of alcohol poisoning. Alcohol addiction is a chronic condition. There will be a point at which the patient will find it extremely difficult to resist the drive to have alcohol. This can lead them to depend on cheap alternatives for alcohol and essentially end up in alcohol poisoning. Alcohol intoxication results can be negatively life-changing.


Treatment for Alcohol Affects and Dual Diagnosis

To treat dual diagnosis, you should treat alcohol consumption. Consuming moderate alcohol content can take patients a long way. Authorities should bring in proper policies to control alcohol use among young adults.


As far as dual-diagnosed patients are concerned, symptoms may help get them the help they need. Health authorities should create awareness of alcohol overdose and other problems alcohol can cause. They should also provide awareness of the symptoms to watch out for dual diagnosis.


Final Word: Alcoholism and Alcohol Treatment: The NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has closely studied alcohol use disorder and dual diagnosis. They have been attempting to provide clarity on the seriousness of dual diagnosis for quite a long time. As per them, abstaining from alcohol is the first and foremost way to escape from dual diagnosis. They also stress the need to be around supportive people to get back from the existing mental health issues. A keen attention to both aspects of the diagnosis is crucial in resolving the issue permanently.


The best ways to treat dual diagnosis are medication, behavioral therapy, support groups, etc. Engaging in refreshing practices like yoga can help the patients to be mindful of their surroundings and help them get back from the addiction. Therapy and other forms of in-patient care can also be helpful in patients with dual diagnosis.

The factors that can contribute to dual diagnosis can be different in different people. In some, the reason could be genetic; in others, it can be peer pressure or similar environmental factors. It solely depends on the person involved.

Contributing Editor

Troy Wakelin – Co-Founder and Contributing Editor SoberCentre.com

Recent Posts
Inspirational Videos
Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign Up For Our Quarterly Newsletter