Real life is complicated. Our minds, our bodies, our feelings, even our experiences – on paper, it seems things should be so clear-cut. We think this, we want that, we feel X, Y, or Z…
In reality, of course, it’s rarely that simple. Feelings crash into thoughts which disrupt our plans which then change our feelings – we are complicated creatures, it seems.
The same is true when it comes to diagnosing disruptions to living our best life. Mental health issues and behavioral disorders are very real, and often very damaging, conditions. We don’t choose them, and they don’t always each stay in their box. They interact and complicate one another without asking our permission.
Substance abuse is a harsh disruptor as well. Sometimes it’s just one thing, but it’s not unusual for substance use disorder (SUD) to take a variety of forms for the same individual. Like I said, real life is complicated.
People wrestling with mental health issues or behavioral disorders are more likely than the general population to seek relief or solace through the misuse of alcohol or drugs, whether they come from pharmacies or neighborhood dealers. That’s certainly not a good thing, but it makes sense – things feel messed up and out of control. We don’t always know what to do or how to feel, and the false promise of whatever substance is available can prove overwhelming. And sometimes, mental health issues just plain make it harder to make our best choices.
Conversely, individuals struggling with substance abuse are more likely than the general population to have mental health issues or behavioral disorders. The disruptions of addiction can lay the groundwork for latent issues to manifest themselves unexpectedly, or otherwise trigger thoughts and behaviors which otherwise might have remained dormant.
The cause-and-effect of it all isn’t always clear, but the correlations are undeniable. And if you’re the individual, your chances of sorting it all out by yourself are statistically slim. You need someone with training and experience in just this sort of difficulty.
Dual Diagnosis Experts
The good news is, you’re not alone. You’re not even some rare exception to how struggle is supposed to work. There’s a name for what you’re experiencing: “co-occurring disorders,” sometimes referred to simply as “dual-diagnosis.”
Either term simply means you’re dealing with a combination of substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health or behavioral issues. It’s unlikely you’ll find your way out on your own, but there is a way through this to a better version of you. And we can help you get there.
Dual-diagnosis situations require experts with both the training and experience to recognize and understand the many factors at play in the same individual. The symptoms for many types of substance abuse and many varieties of mental health or related issues overlap and impact one another in innumerable ways.
How Do I Know If I Need Help?
That’s a great question, although there’s not a single, simple answer. In general, however, there are common warning signs that should at least prompt a phone call or setting up an appointment:
- You no longer enjoy the things you used to enjoy (and maybe you don’t enjoy much of anything).
- Your mood or overall attitude has changed dramatically without obvious external reasons.
- Anger, depression, defensiveness, paranoia, or any other intense emotions or perceptions “take over” from time to time
- It’s hard to think clearly or to focus for extended periods of time.
- You’re no longer motivated to take care of yourself or your surroundings.
- You used to “self-medicate” to deal with stress or extreme situations; now you do it just to feel “normal.”
- Friends or family members have started asking you a lot of questions about what’s going on with you or commenting that you don’t “seem like yourself.”
- You have strong thoughts, feelings, or urges, which are destructive or dangerous or which drive you to do things that don’t make sense
- Performance at work or school drops off suddenly, or you find yourself having trouble with things that used to be easy – keeping up with the bills, buying the right groceries, etc.
- You’ve become impulsive or unpredictable.
- You find yourself thinking about suicide or self-harm or talking about suicide even without intending to.
- You have a family history of mental illness or substance abuse.
- Friends, family, or co-workers urge you to get professional help, even if you don’t think you need it or don’t understand why.
When In Doubt…
If any of these describe you, or if you’re still not sure, don’t wait. Reach out. Let us help you figure out the best way forward to confront mental health challenges as well as providing effective addiction treatment. No matter what you’ve done or how you feel, you are not alone.