Should drug addiction be a disability
People with a mental illness or mental disability have an addiction problem more often than others. So you suffer from a double illness. The number of addicts is also high among people with learning disabilities. How do you recognize the double disease? And what help is there?
Dual diagnosis - what is it?
The term double diagnosis describes a double illness in humans. On the one hand, they have a mental illness - for example, depression, ADHD or psychosis. And they are also dependent on an addictive substance, for example alcohol. The technical term for this double illness is called comorbidity. People with such a double illness are often more difficult to treat than patients with a single illness.
What does "addiction" mean?
The term "addiction" means dependence on addictive substances. For example alcohol, medication, tobacco or drugs such as heroin, cocaine or crystal meth. Those who are addicted have lost control over their consumption. For example, those who are addicted to alcohol cannot stop drinking alcohol. Attempts to stop doing this fail. The causes of addiction and addiction are diverse. In many cases, the addiction leads to problems with family, friends and work colleagues.
The abuse of alcohol, drugs and medication has negative consequences for the body and mind. Symptoms can be the same as with mental illness. For example, the addict may see or perceive things that are not there. Or that the person is very afraid. It is therefore not easy to clearly distinguish addictive substance dependence from mental illness.
What is mental illness and disability?
A mental disability often occurs as a result of a mental illness. The mental illness is determined by a specialist in psychiatry or a psycho-therapist. If it lasts longer than six months, it is called mental disability. There are a wide variety of mental disorders. For example, the difficulty of concentrating or orienting yourself. Or a strong change in the emotional world, such as a strong feeling of fear or sadness. Mental illnesses are for example: schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, depression, trauma, eating disorder, dementia or ADHD.
More on this topic in the article "Mental Disability".
People with learning disabilities and addictions
In recent years there have also been an increasing number of people with learning disabilities who have an addiction problem. This increase in addiction cases was noticed by both the disabled and addiction support staff. Experts believe that this is mainly due to the new forms of living. In the past, people with learning disabilities mostly lived in dormitories with constant care. Or with the parents. Today they live much more often in less supervised residential facilities. The new form of living gives people with learning disabilities more responsibility and more freedom. You can decide for yourself what you want to do. It has also increased the possibility of obtaining and using drugs.
Unfortunately, there are still too few support offers for people with learning disabilities and addiction problems.
What are the solutions?
There are two areas of disease in patients with a double diagnosis. It is not easy to successfully treat both areas. Normal addiction treatment is unsuitable for people with a double diagnosis. Therapy for dependence on addictive substances can only be successful if the mental illness is treated at the same time. People often take addictive drugs to reduce symptoms of mental illness. For example, they drink alcohol to numb feelings of fear. It is therefore important that the patients get to know an alternative to the addictive substance during therapy.
Outpatient treatment of patients with a double diagnosis often fails. The reason for this is that the therapists do not properly recognize the extent of the addiction problem. On the other hand, treatments in which a team of doctors and therapists take care of both diseases are successful. It is important to work with friends and relatives of the patients. If patients live in residential facilities or if they work in workshops, doctors and therapists should work with these facilities.
Where can I find help?
People with a mental disability and addiction should definitely seek help from a doctor or therapist. First of all, you can go to your family doctor or directly to a psychiatrist or psycho-therapist. Inpatient treatment or treatment in a day clinic often makes sense.
There are many counseling centers that can answer your questions about mental illness and addiction. Here is a selection:
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