How Dual Diagnosis Treatment Can Help With Your Substance Abuse and Mental Health


A dual diagnosis is given when a patient is experiencing both a mental illness and a substance disorder simultaneously. The relationship between mental health and drug abuse is hard to dissect because we cannot accurately tell which comes before or after the other. It is, however, a very common occurrence, as 8 million of the 21 million people with substance disorders in the United States alone have mental disorders.

Most people are oblivious of the existence of both conditions and may not know how to go about treatment programs for both conditions. It has been seen that those with mental illnesses tend to be more susceptible to substance abuse and vice versa, and going through a dual diagnosis can help them maneuver such situations. Some benefits of this dual diagnosis treatment include:

Getting a full psychiatric health assessment:

A great advantage of going to a dual treatment center is that you can get a full psychiatric assessment from a trained professional. Sometimes, these conditions are difficult to spot, but using some pointer signs such as these may help to shed light on them:

  • Extreme antisocial behavior such as missing work, school, or staying away from any social gathering may also include getting into fights, accidents, and constant problems with the authority
  • Developing new strange and secretive behaviors together with extreme mood swings and sudden bursts of anger.
  • Low motivation and excessive paranoia together with drastic appetite changes.
  • Delusional thinking or suicidal tendencies coupled up with unexplained body aches
  • Getting easily overwhelmed by the daily stressors of life.

Although the symptoms may not individually indicate the existence of the problem, a trained professional can be able to come up with a correct diagnosis.

Learning how to effectively cope with triggers:

There are some circumstances or issues that may predispose patients to fall into a mental illness and drug abuse cycle. Once they have been identified, it is easier to mitigate the risk of falling into the cycles. Some of these may include having a common risk factor such as genetics, environmental cues like stress, and trauma in both scenarios. For example, stress from work causes anxiety while simultaneously invoking the desire to self-medicate with alcohol.

Some underlying biological factors such as chemical imbalances in the brain can also contribute to addiction and mental illness simultaneously. The use of drugs may also have caused a change in the brain’s chemical makeup and made the reward feedback loop when using drugs a lot higher. Once triggers have been understood, it becomes easier to learn how to deal with such overwhelming situations.

Coming up with effective plans and having focused care:

Solo treatment is not effective at arriving at the best treatment plans for you and therefore it might be necessary to enroll in a dual diagnosis treatment center. This makes sure that these overlapping effects of the two illnesses are well taken care of. Such an integrated program that is done by medical professionals with experience in dual diagnosis will help merge treatment options such as therapy, detox, and group work for the best results.

These plans are also personalized for the best results and can help to achieve long-lasting sobriety. Counseling and peer support groups are also part of the treatment program because these illnesses are very secluded and a support system is instrumental in the healing process.

Understanding the illnesses through extensive education:

One reason that many people do not treat either their mental illnesses or drug use disorder is the lack of information on symptoms and lack of proper assessment. A dual diagnosis treatment center will begin by running a medical diagnosis to establish which of the two the patient has. As you have your sessions with the doctor, you will get informed about the possible medical conditions that may be leading to self–medication through drugs. This will be very effective in breaking the cycle of use and falling into the mental illness loophole.


Double diagnoses are becoming more normalized in medical and non-medical circles as a way to help in the full recovery progress. Getting through the recovery process of both a mental illness and drug addiction disorder can be a daunting process but with the support of a good dual diagnosis treatment center, full recovery is imminent.