Dual Diagnosis

When someone struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, their therapist might identify them as having a dual diagnosis. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), more than nine million Americans have a dual diagnosis. 

For a person with a dual diagnosis, treatment and detox for their addiction are not enough. In many cases, these people will relapse without treatment for the co-occurring disorder. The person must receive treatment for their addiction and the co-occurring mental health disorder.

This guide provides a closer look at dual diagnosis from a definition to treatment types:

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

While the phrase dual diagnosis might sound like two mental health disorders occurring in the same person, this isn’t correct. For a person to fit this diagnosis, they must have a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. 

A professional will diagnose and determine how the mental health disorder relates to the drug or alcohol addiction. The patient might also hear the term co-occurring condition when the therapist refers to the patient’s dual diagnosis. 

In many cases, the underlying mental health disorder is a factor in the patient’s alcohol or drug abuse. However, this pattern is not always the case. A mental health professional needs to make the diagnosis and determine if the two conditions are interrelated. 

For example, a person struggling with depression might use drugs to cope with their mental health. This makes a relapse a real possibility if the person with a dual diagnosis is only treated for their addiction. A dual-diagnosis treatment center has the skills and experience to treat the dual diagnosis simultaneously.

What Are Some of the Most Common Causes of Dual Diagnosis?

Although no one can surely say the causes of an individual’s mental health and substance abuse, some theories suggest causes. The theories include the following:

  • Multiple risk factors: In this theory, risk factors, such as poverty, mental health issues in the family, isolation, and problems in early childhood, are combined to create a mental health disorder, and easy access to drugs can lead to addiction. 
  • Causality: This theory argues that sustained abuse of drugs or alcohol leads to mental health disorders.
  • Supersensitivity: People who struggle with severe mental health disorders also have supersensitivity. The use of drugs or alcohol increases this supersensitivity. 
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Sometimes, children and young adults who struggle with ADHD will begin using drugs at an earlier age. This can lead to a substance abuse disorder and co-occurring diagnosis. 
  • Alleviation of dysphoria theory: Many people with a mental health disorder also deal with a loss of self-esteem and confidence. The use of drugs or alcohol works as an aid to improve their self-image. 

When a professional therapist diagnoses a patient with a co-occurring disorder, they might examine the causes closely. By familiarizing themselves with the person’s symptoms, they can determine the most effective dual diagnosis treatment.

What Are Some of the Most Common Types of Dual Diagnosis?

Treatment for drug or alcohol addiction is relatively common. However, a dual diagnosis patient’s underlying mental health issue needs to be treated with substance abuse. When treated together, the patient is more likely to sustain a life in recovery. This makes identifying the mental health condition paramount. 

The most common types of dual diagnosis are:

  • Bipolar disorder and addiction
  • Depression and addiction
  • Anxiety disorder and addiction
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and addiction

Before starting a dual diagnosis treatment, the therapist must determine the patient’s underlying mental health issues. Then the mental health professional determines an appropriately integrated treatment approach.

What Are Some of the Most Common Treatment Types of Dual Diagnosis?

For someone with a dual diagnosis to return to their everyday life, they need a treatment plan for both issues. Some patients might not even realize they have a dual diagnosis before they begin the recovery process. The treatment program for a co-occurring disorder can start during the treatment for substance abuse. 

Here are some stages of alcohol or drug addiction treatment when the patient might begin work on the co-occurring condition:

  1. Initial detox phase: This is when a person struggling with drug or alcohol addiction stops using their drug of choice, and the body rids the system of these toxins.
  2. Residential treatment: Some patients aren’t ready to go home after the alcohol or drugs are out of their system. They must build the tools necessary to avoid a relapse and remain in their treatment center 24/7.
  3. Outpatient treatment: This is a stage of ongoing therapy to ensure the patient doesn’t struggle with relapses.

The patient and therapist will decide on the best dual diagnosis treatment for the patient’s unique needs. Some therapists choose to treat the primary condition first, while others opt to treat both disorders simultaneously. 

 The therapist might consider treating the co-occurring disorders in the order in which they are presented. In some cases, the two conditions are treated equally instead of one disorder being the primary and the other the secondary.

Discover the Ideal Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center

Dual diagnosis is defined as having a mental health and substance use disorder simultaneously. To properly treat dual diagnosis, treatments for both disorders must occur at the same time. Dual diagnosis treatment enables the person to make a full recovery and maintain a sober lifestyle. 

At Inland Detox in Riverside County, CA, treatment of dual diagnosis starts with detox from the substances used. After detox is complete, medication management and therapy can be utilized to treat both the mental health disorder and substance use disorder. Reach out to us today to learn more about dual diagnosis treatment.