What is Dual-Diagnosis and How is it Treated?

patients hands together at a dual diagnosis treatment center

What is Dual-Diagnosis and How is it Treated?

Many people who suffer from substance use disorder also suffer from a co-occurring disorder or mental health condition. By definition, such individuals are considered to have a dual-diagnosis. Individuals suffering from a dual-diagnosis require integrative treatment, addressing the substance use disorder and mental health condition simultaneously. According to the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, 45% of individuals suffering from addiction also have a co-occurring mental health condition. These individuals can benefit from dual diagnosis treatment.

If you or a loved one deal with the effects of a dual-diagnosis, it may be time to consider professional treatment. When individuals seek treatment for addiction and a co-occurring disorder, they increase the probability of successfully attaining recovery from both ailments. That’s why our Delray Beach addiction treatment facility focuses on addressing both mental health and addiction for each and every one of our patients.

The Warning Signs of a Co-Occurring Disorder

Typically, the signs of co-occurring disorders vary greatly from person to person. Substance use disorder or addiction are both known to co-occur with a variety of different mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and more. Also, each individual may experience varying symptoms of the same mental health condition. With that being said, there are a few common warning signs associated with dual-diagnosis and co-occurring disorders.

Common symptoms of a dual-diagnosis include:

  • Sudden change in general behavior
  • Difficulty managing daily tasks and responsibilities
  • Avoiding events or social activities that were once enjoyed
  • Neglecting health and hygiene
  • Disillusioned thinking or cognitive impairments
  • Refusal to seek or comply with treatment
  • Mentions of thoughts of suicide or suicidal behaviors
  • Erratic and impulsive behaviors
  • Issues managing finances
  • Poor performance at school or work

Unfortunately, individuals with dual-diagnosis are likely to self-medicate the symptoms of their mental health conditions through the use of drugs or alcohol. In doing so, individuals may experience increased and more frequent symptoms of their co-occurring disorder. Also, the use of substances increases their risk of overdosing or experiencing health complications. If you or a loved one suffer from addiction and a co-occurring disorder, contact your local dual-diagnosis treatment provider today.

What Causes Dual-Diagnosis to Occur?

According to research, individuals diagnosed with a mental health condition are twice as likely as the general population to suffer from a substance use disorder. In other words, dual-diagnosis and suffering from a co-occurring disorder are extremely common among the substance abuse realm. Similarly, individuals who frequently abuse substances are likely to develop co-occurring mental health disorders. While it is widely accepted that mental health disorders can induce substance use disorder, and vice versa, researchers continue to uncover what causes both conditions to occur simultaneously. Continue reading to learn which factors aggravate mental health or substance use disorder.

Brain Responses

Abusing drugs and alcohol can cause symptoms to appear that mimic mental health conditions. For example, excessive stimulant abuse can give rise to psychosis in some individuals, which is a severe mental disorder that causes people to lose touch with reality.


Both addiction and mental health conditions can be caused by genetic predisposition. Research shows that genes make up 40 to 60 percent of a person’s susceptibility to addiction.

Environmental Triggers

Chronic stress, persistent anxiety, or a traumatic event can kickstart an addiction or mental health disorder. For example, borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition found to develop after individuals experience severe childhood trauma. Also, a borderline personality disorder is known to frequently co-occur with substance use disorder. Therefore, environmental triggers are a huge risk factor in the development of dual-diagnosis.

Childhood Exposure

People who experiment with or abuse drugs and alcohol at an early age are more likely to suffer from addiction and a mental health condition. This is due to young people being more prone to brain damage from substance abuse than older adults.

Finding Treatment for Dual-Diagnosis

Some individuals develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol before being diagnosed with a mental health condition. On the other hand, some people may become addicted after being diagnosed with a mental health condition. Whichever comes first, it is vital for individuals suffering from dual-diagnosis to seek professional treatment that addresses both disorders simultaneously. In the case of dual-diagnosis, the most effective form of treatment is found in the structured, safe, and supportive environment of an inpatient rehab center.

Inpatient rehab programs are ideal for those with a dual-diagnosis due to the high level of attention and care provided. It is common for individuals with dual-diagnosis to arrive at treatment in various states of distress and poor overall health. The combination of addiction and a neglected mental health condition requires both mental health and addiction professionals.

When choosing a dual-diagnosis treatment center, it is vital that you find one specializing in your type of addiction and mental health disorder. In doing so, you will receive the most effective form of care as well as ensuring you with the greatest potential for recovery.

When deciding on a dual-diagnosis addiction treatment program, ask the following questions to help you make an easier and more informed decision:

  • Do you offer individualized treatment plans for all residents?
  • Is therapy structured to treat dual diagnosis?
  • Will I or my loved one be evaluated by a licensed psychiatric professional or physician before admission?
  • Are both of my disorders viewed as interconnected health issues, or as separate illnesses?
  • If I or my loved one relapses during rehab, how would that be handled?
  • Does your facility offer aftercare referral services?

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment in Delray Beach, Florida

Once you have settled into the dual-diagnosis treatment center of your choice, the recovery process begins. At Florida Recovery Group, we provide our patients with a number of therapies, medications, and activities that take place throughout the course of our program. Our licensed and professional counselors hold group and individual therapy sessions, while patients can take advantage of our offered activities and amenities. Contact us today for more information on our dual-diagnosis substance abuse treatment program.