The symptoms of drug abuse, alcohol abuse and various mental health disorders are often quite similar. Consequently it may take an unfortunate amount of time before a dual diagnosis can be accurately made. The complexity of the situation may even fool addiction therapists who lack experience treating those with co-occurring disorders.
When either mental illness or a substance abuse disorder—but not both—has already been diagnosed (or is strongly suspected to be present), it is only natural to blame all your personal troubles on the known illness. But this practice can obscure the truth and leave you unprepared to deal with your problems—or understand their authentic origin.
Another barrier to a correct diagnosis is the fact that substance abuse and mental illness can interact in surprising and unexpected ways, causing you to manifest symptoms that don’t fit neatly into any particular category. This can be puzzling for you, your family and the medical professionals you consult for expert guidance and advice.
Ultimately you may require a full evaluation from a team of experts in psychiatry, psychology and addiction treatment before a diagnosis of co-occurring disorders can be made.