Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse demonstrates that simultaneous addiction and mental illness is a common phenomenon. In fact, they report individuals with both anxiety and mood disorders are two times as likely to suffer from an addiction than those in the general population. Patients with both issues occurring at the same time are said to have a Dual Diagnosis. This poses many issues for practitioners in both the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders that overlap with a pain condition.
A variety of problems related to the use of prescription pain medications including intoxication, withdrawal and addiction can cause significant confusion for doctors and psychiatrists during the process of diagnosis and the treatment of mental disorders. Patients may present as having the symptoms indicative of depression and anxiety if they are going through withdrawal from prescription painkillers. If they do not report that they have a dependency or addiction, many physicians may very well misinterpret the presenting symptoms. However, even if they report their addiction, until a patient is clean, it is hard to tell where the addiction starts and the mental illness ends.
Also, individuals deep in an active addiction characterized by intense cravings that cause drug-seeking behaviors may appear sociopathic. However, as soon as the addiction is dealt with, many patients have no such symptoms. An additional problem arises for patients who are undertreated for painful conditions. They also will start to appear depressed or anxious and may be incorrectly diagnosed.
Anyone with a mental illness, or symptoms of one, who is also experiencing and/or being treated for pain may need to employ the help of many different specialists in the area of health and healing. The help of both a psychiatrist and pain medicine specialist is a must if no addiction has developed. For those with a painkiller dependency, proper drug and alcohol treatment is necessary before a mental health disorder can truly be determined.
In addiction, experts support the use of alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation and massage that have been shown to reduce a patient’s pain levels without drug intervention. Some individuals may find enough relief from these modalities alone or they may help to reduce the amount of medication necessary to keep the individual comfortable. In any case, the use of these methods is encouraged as an adjunct to pharmaceuticals in the reduction of pain.
If you know someone with a Dual Diagnosis of mental illness and addiction to painkillers, get in touch with us. We can help you find high-quality drug rehabilitation programs that are experienced in the treatment of patients with mental disorders. The individualized care these programs offer is essential for a successful recovery. Contact us today.