Behavioural Healthmental health blocks

Dual diagnosis treatment for addictions

Dual diagnosis rehabilitation combines addictive disorders (alcoholism, drug addiction or behavioural disorders like sex addiction), and mental illness treatment.

In the past, psychiatric health and addiction were treated as two separate conditions but in recent years, clinicians working within the addiction treatment arena have been trained to treat co-occurring mental health disorders with special programs that are personalised for dual diagnosis. It is now commonplace for rehab centres to offer programs that offer individualised care for co-occurring disorders.

The criteria for diagnosis of co-occurring mental health disorder and addictive disorder means that dual diagnosis treatment must consider both your mental health and addiction at each stage of the recovery process.

Mental health problems that might form part of diagnosis include depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. An assessment and any subsequent treatment plan that is initiated will require the skill of a qualified psychiatrist, psychologist, counsellor, therapist, or physician.


Integrated treatment of substance abuse and mental illness

Dual diagnosis refers to the treatment given to patients that have a serious mental illness or psychological disorder in addition to their addiction to alcohol or drugs. In this case, the personality disorder can exist along with the substance abuse.

The term dual diagnosis had its origins in the United States back in the 1980s. It has since been adopted in the UK and elsewhere in the world.  It refers to the relationship between two serious conditions, which could be based on hereditary factors as well.

Generally, a psychiatric problem could lead to substance abuse or use of alcohol and drugs. When you have such an addiction, you will feel lonely, bored, anxious and have difficulty trying to sleep. You might also suffer from the side-effects of medication.

Substance abuse could make a psychiatric illness worse. Substance abuse and alcoholism can lead to serious psychological conditions.  They can act as a trigger to those who already have some sort of a mental health disorder.


Why is it so important to make a dual diagnosis?

People that are found to have a dual diagnosis have very complex needs with respect to their social life, finances, health and are often under a lot of emotional stress. It is not easy to provide support to those that have a dual diagnosis.

Dual diagnosis requires patients to hire the right addiction and mental health specialists and use evidence-based interventions with a focus on the target in order to get the motivation to change. The goal is to prevent a relapse at all costs, and to facilitate the patient’s reintegration back into the society.


Dual diagnosis: mental health problems and substance misuse

The most common psychiatric problems in dual diagnosis are…

#1: Depression and bipolar disorder

#2: Anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorders, panic disorders and phobias

#3: Schizophrenia, personality disorders and other psychiatric disorders

Each of these mental health problems can lead to drug or alcohol addiction or various types of behavioural addictions. This leaves the individual at a high risk of becoming an addict.


What are the symptoms of dual diagnosis?

Mental health disorders and substance abuse can affect a person physically, socially, spiritually and psychologically. The symptoms of dual diagnosis are such that they interfere with the patient’s relationships and performance at the workplace. They leave the individual at a high risk of relapse.

Any diagnosis of a mental health issue should be made by a qualified psychiatrist only. However, the symptoms of psychosis induced by drug addiction and psychiatric illness can easily overlap and mask each other.

This makes it very difficult to give a precise diagnosis. Getting the right kind of treatment can hence be very difficult. That’s why it is so important to get a dual diagnosis if you or someone close to you has a mental health problem and is taking drugs or alcohol as well.


Signs and Symptoms

In order to be classed as dual diagnosis, you must first be evaluated by a qualified mental health professional or addiction specialist. Get in touch with an addiction treatment specialist who is also qualified at psychiatric care, they will put you in touch with appropriate dual diagnosis rehab facilities.

Here, the counsellor and evaluation specialist will analyse your substance abuse patterns and create a highly individualised treatment plan for you. The hard part is always to seek out help. Once you get in touch with the right dual diagnosis specialists, you can then trust them to take the treatment forward.


Why does dual diagnosis happen?

There are many reasons why an individual could develop a dual diagnosis. Some might do so because they enjoy taking drugs or alcohol, or believe that resorting to substance abuse would improve their sex life. Perhaps they want to lose weight, or have friends who are drug users. For many resorting to drugs serves as an escape from the boredom of everyday life. It could be peer pressure as well. Whatever the reason may be, dual diagnosis is a trap and getting out of it is not easy by any means.


What are Your Treatment Options for Dual Diagnosis?

Psychiatrists and addiction specialists today agree that both disorders have to be treated simultaneously. Research indicates that when substance misuse and mental health disorder are treated at the same time, the chance of further psychotic episodes and suicide attempts are minimised.

Treatment for dual diagnosis is never easy. That’s because people that have this condition have complex needs and require a long-term treatment. They are socially reclusive and de-motivated. They are often unwilling to take their medications. They could have serious financial problems as well, because of the condition and may not have access to proper housing.


 An integrated approach to treatment will consist of the following…

#1: First, the mental health practitioners get in touch with the individual and explain to them how they can help them get better. They engage the person’s family and friends in the effort as well.

#2:  Once an initial relationship has been formed with the person, the dual diagnosis experts work with the clients and help them understand the true nature of their problem. They motivate the individual and provide the right kind of counselling.

#3: This is followed by the actual treatment which consists of the right medication and treatment for mental illness, family involvement, training and education and psychiatric treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy. The important thing here is to help the individual develop an ability to cope with their condition and engage socially with other people.

#4: The final stage of the treatment is to ensure that there is no relapse of any sort. The patient is trained to identify situations that could leave them susceptible to a relapse. There is no particular treatment option that could work for everyone in dual diagnosis.

That’s because there are a number of different mental health disorders that one has to deal with, and the relationship between the specific psychiatric disorder and the person’s substance abuse can be a very complicated one.


People who have dual diagnosis are usually diagnosed with the following conditions…

#1: Mood swings, depression or bipolar disorders.

#2:  Anxiety disorders such as antisocial disorder and borderline personality disorder.

#3: Eating disorders such as anorexia, binge eating, emotional eating or bulimia.


Final Thoughts – Getting Over the Initial Denial

Most people find it hard to come to terms with their dual diagnosis problem. Their thoughts and actions are often altered by their psychological condition. It is so easy for them to neglect their own self-interest. They are depressed, and this makes them feel as though their life is not worth saving. They are often anxious, which is why they remain in social isolation. So for such individuals, resorting to alcoholism or drug use only seems natural.


Are you looking for the addiction treatment services? Get in touch with us for help if you or someone close to you is suffering from dual diagnosis. We can evaluate your situation and connect you with a treatment facility or rehab suitable for your condition.



  1. Good info! Dual diagnosis is a complex issue that most addiction treatment centres don’t fully grasp. Most claim to offer dual diagnosis recovery programs but don’t actually have the personnel in place to effectively treat patients affected by cooccuring disorders!

  2. This post on Dual diagnosis rehabilitation is really informative and helpful. We finally know why dual diagnosis actually happens. These treatment methods seems really good. I would personally prefer to implement these tips. I have a friend looking for addiction therapies, I can refer this post to him, he can get tremendous help from here.

  3. Excellent article. Besides addiction rehab is so difficult, a wrong diagnosis can cause a slower or none recovery.
    Luckly with such advances in dual diagnosis, now patient can be treated right and find a real solution for them.

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