Dual Diagnoses? There is a “chicken and egg” phenomenon that occurs in early recovery with regards to evaluating the effects of substance abuse vs. mental health issues.
Many people presenting for a detoxification from substances can show a variety of uncomfortable and clinically relevant symptoms. The substance misuse can complicate the diagnostic picture for any one. That being said, over time and with recovery, a person and their providers can get a clearer picture as to what underlying conditions, if any, may be driving the addiction.
Some people mistakenly believe that they have issues such as depression or anxiety that drive their addiction. Many of these people are happily surprised to see that once making it through the detoxification and post-detox process, their mood is actually relatively stable and balanced. There is relief in knowing that their emotional distress was driven by the roller coaster of chemicals manipulating their emotions. However, other times detox can reveal underlying mental health concerns that were either hidden or exasperated by the substances. This can be difficult to start to experience these problems when no longer numbed to them but once properly diagnosed the issues can the receive specific treatment.
Certainly the most controllable variable in the dilemma is helping a person become free from the substances. After that one can identify whatever needs are under the surface for which the substances were compensating. Once underlying issues are addressed there can be a relief that can never be found in the bottom of a bottle.
Chad K. Cox PsyD
AToN Center 888-535-1516