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Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Oklahoma

Dual diagnosis is a general term that refers to people having two coexistent medical conditions. It is most often used to refer to patients who have been diagnosed with an addiction as well as a serious mental disorder. While the term ‘dual diagnosis’ is in common usage, you may also hear references to co-morbidity or co-occurrence, both of which essentially mean the same thing as dual diagnosis. However, there is no precise definition to any of these terms. People should query any treatment specialist or medical professional as to what it precisely refers if the term is used to describe them or a loved one. Some doctors insist the term should only be used when both conditions are present, while others would use the term to describe patients who no longer have one or both conditions. Another area of confusion is that some people will use the term even when a diagnosis of a coexistent condition has not been made.

In Oklahoma, SAMHSA estimates that about half of all those people with addiction problems also have a mental health issue. Even when the mental health disorder has not been identified, many medical professionals, treatment specialists and statisticians will state that approximately 50% of addicts are dual diagnosis. In Oklahoma, that means more than 122,000 people are dual diagnosis. This makes it clear that dual diagnosis treatment in Oklahoma is very needed.


Problems Diagnosing Mental Health Problems

Mental health problems can be among the most difficult illnesses to diagnose. Many people with mental disorders are completely oblivious to that fact, and will never raise the possibility with their doctors. Doctors may attribute the symptoms patients describe to other issues. The problem is compounded when mentally ill patients are abusing alcohol or drugs, because many of the symptoms of substance abuse are identical to those caused by mental disorders.

For example, if a person addicted to stimulants complains of anxiety attacks, that person’s doctor is most likely to attribute these to the abuse of the stimulants. In the same way, alcoholism can mask depression in a patient. Because of the problems inherent in accurately diagnosing mental health problems in addicts, the diagnostic manual (DSM-5) advises that such a diagnosis should only be made if a patient has not abused alcohol or drugs for at least a year.


Common Dual Diagnoses

While any drug addict or alcoholic could have any of a range of mental illnesses, and vice versa, some pairings of mental illness and substance abuse occur far more frequently than others. People with PTSD may experience vivid nightmares, and find it very difficult to relax. They often turn to benzodiazepines (opioids) or sleeping pills to help, and then become addicted to those medications.

People with bipolar disorder and those with ADHD may become addicted to stimulants as well as relaxants. Bipolar patients may take relaxants when they are in the manic phase, and stimulants when they are depressed. People with ADHD often use stimulants to offset the symptoms, but then find they have to use relaxants to counter the effects of the stimulants.

Alcohol is widely abused, and is associated with all types of mental health disorders, especially depression. People with anxiety disorders often abuse alcohol, and they may also abuse relaxants.


Dual diagnosis in Oklahoma is considerably more complicated than helping people quit drugs or alcohol, or dealing with a mental disorder that is not accompanied by a mental health issue. Fortunately, there are numerous treatment facilities that offer dual diagnosis treatment in Oklahoma.

Treatment of coexistent conditions requires an integrated approach, and both conditions must be addressed simultaneously. The complexity of treating people with dual diagnosis means that residential treatment is possibly the best option.


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If you have questions about dual diagnosis treatment, call to speak to a specialist today. Begin your new life today.