Dual Diagnosis: When Alcoholism Isn’t The Only Challenge

For many people struggling with alcoholism, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Often, there’s another issue, or multiple issues that are also impacting them.

This can be really tricky, because the alcohol is used as a way to cope with the other mental health issue, so trying to stop drinking can actually cause the other thing to feel worse, which helps create a brutal back-and-forth feedback where one issue plays off the other one.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders Alongside Alcoholism:

Here are some of the most common co-occurring disorders that will be dual-diagnosed alongside alcoholism. People may turn to alcohol to help deal with these other issues, making it very difficult to stop drinking until these other things are dealt with, addressed, or at least better understood so that the person struggling with alcohol at least knows what they’re dealing with.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar
  • PTSD
  • Borderline
  • Schizophrenia

Any of the above six disorders are difficult enough to deal with on their own, which can lead to somebody using alcohol to help cope.

But once you combine them with alcoholism, it’s a difficult thing to overcome, but you need to remember that there is hope in recovery, you can improve your situation and your life by understanding your triggers, how alcohol affects you, and finding other ways to deal with mental health other than drinking.

It can be very helpful for somebody struggling with alcoholism to seek mental help support, to help determine if there’s a dual-diagnosis. This will open the door for more effective treatment for their drinking problem.

Understanding The Impact of Dual-Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis presents unique and difficult challenges for both diagnosis and treatment of alcoholism and the other additional disorder.

If the mental health disorder remains untreated or diagnosed, it can make it a lot more difficult to achieve sobriety.

Likewise, focusing solely on alcoholism treatment without addressing the co-occurring disorder can lead to treatment resistance and an increased risk of relapse.

Finding a mental health professional who is able to dual-diagnose can be the difference between getting sober sooner, or continuing down a bad path away from sobriety.

Getting Help

Depending on where you live and what programs are available, you may need to visit your family doctor for a referral to a mental health professional. In some cases, a rehab facility will be able to help.

An alcohol counselor, while having experience with dual-diagnosis, may not be in a position to diagnose – which is why a psychiatrist visit could be important.

The first step can be visiting your doctor, talking about your concerns, and getting the necessary referrals to continue your journey towards recovery and sobriety. A doctor can also help refer you to other resources, check your vitals, and see if you’re in a position to stop drinking immediately or if you’ll need additional medical support to detox from alcohol.

Category: Addiction
Martijn van Eijk
Martijn is a passionate creator and the driving force behind StopDrinking.com. He created this website to assist individuals and their families in conquering alcohol addiction and finding a joyful, fulfilling life after alcohol. With a deep understanding of the challenges they face, he empowers readers with valuable insights and practical guidance on their journey towards recovery. Author of the Stop Shaking Book.