Sometimes we meet individuals who have a mental illness or disorder and an alcohol or other drug addiction problem. We call this dual diagnosis. It is possible for someone to have dual diagnosis without using drugs or alcohol. For example, one can have a mental illness and gambling or an eating disorder. When a person has a dual diagnosis, the emphasis is that both problems can be successfully treated.
Mental illness refers to the different kinds of brain disorders like depression, bipolar disorders or schizophrenia. Please be aware that it is mostly in mental health issues that the community refers to people as having demons. Yet mental health illness is just like having High Blood Pressure or Diabetes. One of the AIMS of mental health profession is to help the community to change their narrative. See and understand mental health disorders as problems that can be successfully treated.
Why do some people have dual diagnosis?
Mental Health professionals think and tell us that a person may have a mental illness first. Then the person may turn to alcohol because they are feeling sad, anxious or they are afraid. We call this self medicating. But alcohol use only makes problems worse. In another scenario, a person may have an alcohol or other drug use problem first, and as one continues to use alcohol and drugs, the alcohol affects the brain and other vital organs differently. Over time this may lead a person to develop mental illness. Then in this case, it seems like it is self induced. Yet another view point is that a person may have both problems at the same time. In other words, one may not directly cause the other problem. Yet an alcohol problem can lead a person to experiment with other drugs resulting in one affecting the other. In this case, alcohol becomes and is the gateway to other illegal drugs, or addictions from prescription drugs plus other life issues. This is a wide subject and I recommend that you read more about this subject on your own.
Dual diagnosis affects family, friends, and work associates. It makes, especially ones family feel ashamed, angry, afraid and yet many don’t know what to do. This is why it results in a family secret. However, the more we talk about mental health issues like dual diagnosis, the more easier we make it for individuals to get help. Sometimes we say, “Let’s Talk About The Pink elephant in the Closet.” We just mean that it is important to talk about what is bothering or bugging a person. You know the old adage that, “things left to themselves tend to go from bad to worse.” It is true without mental well being. We cannot afford to ignore the reality that we see in our families every day. Can we?
When Dual diagnosis is left untreated it negatively affects a person’s health and significant relationships. In Diaspora, USA we are seeing more and more young adults both male and female who show symptoms of dual diagnosis. At this point, I wish to point out the importance of getting help early for adolescents. When adolescent issues are left untreated, they might emerge as huge problems in adulthood. We have to accept that our healthy youth of today is our healthy adult tomorrow.
Learning about dual diagnosis is important because it helps a person to go ahead and get the right treatment. Admitting that a person has a problem is the first bold step. For dual diagnosis, both problems can be successfully treated. Recovery from a disease or a behavior that has been set in for many years will take time. Be kind to yourself. Be patient, and persist with treatment
Disclaimer/this information should not be a substitute for medical advice or interfere with a person’s treatment plan. Do not stop treatment without consulting your doctor/psychiatrist/therapist/counselor. If you are taking medication and begin to feel better, do not stop taking meds without consulting with your health care provider/KPIUSA..
Christ’s Servant & Friend,
Rev. (Mrs.) Wambui Njoroge, M.Sci.Triumph Christian Ministries, Inc
BOARD MEMBER C.O.D.U.