What is a dual diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorders, is the term used to refer to someone experiencing a substance abuse disorder and mental illness simultaneously. Either disorder (substance abuse or mental illness) may develop first. For instance, a person with a mental health disorder may turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication.

What are the symptoms?

There are many combinations of dual diagnosis, as such, symptoms may vary widely as well. However, here are some common symptoms of substance abuse disorder and mental illness that you should watch out for:

  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Sudden behavior changes
  • Increased irritability
  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Concentration problems