Dual-diagnosis is a term used to denote individuals who suffer from drug addiction or alcoholism as well as another mental disorder (often bipolar disorder, PTSD, or eating disorders).
Considering the fact that addicts tend to be people who use and drink to self-medicate for pre-existing problems, it’s not surprising to learn that dual-diagnosis is incredibly common.
The question is: which came first, the chicken or the egg? In one case, an individual may clearly begin drinking as a means of coping with symptoms of a psychological disorder. In another, a long-term drug user may develop a psychological disorder as a result of substance-related mental imbalance.
The answer is: It doesn’t really matter, both disorders must be addressed in treatment in order for an individual to recover.
If an addicted individual attempts to work on deep psychological issues without getting sober, she will not succeed, because she will be incapable of accessing important memories and emotions that are numbed by drugs and alcohol.
If a person with a psychological disorder attempts to get sober without dealing with their mental condition, they will find sobriety miserable, causing them to return to drinking and using.
Each person will discover the true root of their problems in time, as they progress in their personal journey through recovery. The important thing is to get into treatment, and begin the process of working through both substance abuse patterns and mental health issues. Nothing will improve until both of these areas are addressed.