Giles County Technology Center

As part of the HOSA (Health Occupational Students of America) chapter at Giles County Technology Center, Ashley Allen, Samantha Stanley, and Tiler Smith are preparing to compete at the state competition. As a part of their event for Community Awareness they have made it their goal to educate the community about Dual Diagnoses. They presented their speech to the Giles County Board of Supervisors and will have brochures for the community in the local physicians’ offices.

Change the Outcome

How often have you seen someone in your family that has had a substance abuse problem or a mental health problem? Have you ever thought that the two may be in relation to one another? If you have never thought of how they may be in relation, here is how. In our mental health system today when an individual is diagnosed with chronic depression, bipolar disorder, or various other mental health issues the medications that they may be prescribed are often very expensive. Not only are the medications expensive, but so are the other forms of treatment that are offered to go along with the medications. That makes it hard for anyone who is in the middle class to be able to afford the medications they need and the correct type of treatment. Also making it hard in our own community is we have no type of treatment or healthcare provider for those that have mental illnesses. So, with the medications and people not having easy access to treatments of health care providers, how else are those with these mental disorders going to cope? They end up coping by self-medicating with substances such as alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, and opioids.

There is a part of the brain that produces the chemical knows as dopamine or often referred to as the chemical that creates pleasure. When the chemical is released throughout the body naturally it then goes back to the brain and is reused. If someone is depressed that chemical (dopamine), is not produced by the brain. If a substance is involved to help create the happy feeling then it is not able to be reused because substances eventually then just die off and can not be recycled to the brain. Due to substances not allowing the brain to recycle the chemical dopamine; depression, bipolar disease, and other mental health diagnoses are often left untreated and the individual self-medicates to help rid the symptoms.

When an individual is diagnosed with both a mental disorder and substance abuse it is known as dual diagnosis. There is no cure for a dual diagnosis but there are treatments available. The treatment for these individuals with a dual diagnosis have a wide range in variety and depend on what substance is being abused and the mental disorder. In the 1990’s people were experiencing both mental disorders and substance abuse problems but they were only being treated for one or the other, because of that their problems were continuing instead of being resolved. Studies have shown that when both illnesses are treated at the same time the treatment is more successful and helps prevent the individual from relapsing.

What could we do to support those in the community with these illnesses? Things that you can do are going to your local delegates about possible treatment centers and attending local board meetings. Help us raise awareness about these illnesses that are so common within our communities.

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