Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis is the diagnosis of two or more disorders at the same time. Generally a combination of a substance abuse such as alcoholism or drug addiction and a mental illness, a dual diagnosis is often known as a co-occurring disorder.

Although the term “dual” connotes two disorders, in this case, it encompasses two or more disorders. For instance, the patient may have more than one substance abuse disorder and/or more than one mental disorder. The diagnosis is made when it can be substantiated that a patient has evidence of one of each type of disorder, substance abuse and mental disorder, instead of just symptoms related to one disorder.
alcohol abuseIf you or someone has been diagnosed with dual disorder, call 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? to discuss treatment options.

Examples of some of the more common dual diagnoses are combinations of major depression with cocaine addiction, alcohol addiction in conjunction with schizophrenia in combination with multiple drug addictions, and borderline personality disorder with multiple drug addictions. Although these are some examples, there are a number of variations of how mental disorders and substance abuse can be combined. Severity of the disorders can also vary. While the patient may have a mild mental disorder, they may have a severe substance abuse problem or vice versa. According to Psychology Today, more than half of all adults with grave mental illness are further impaired by substance use disorders. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that approximately 8.9 million adults have co-occurring disorders.

Compared to patients with a single disorder, those who have dual disorders are more likely to have severe and chronic medical, emotional and social problems. They are more likely to relapse than patients with just one disorder. Also, an addiction relapse often results in worsening psychiatric problems, which then may lead to further substance abuse.

Mental Disorders

personality disorder

The prevalent psychiatric disorders in dual diagnosis cases include:

  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Psychotic disorders

Mood disorders are characterized by changes in mood and include depression, bipolar disorder and mania.

Anxiety disorders are disorders that are characterized by excessive fear and nervousness, and sometimes difficulty sleeping. This group includes panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder and agoraphobia.

Personality disorders are indicated by dysfunctional behavior. Paranoid, antisocial, borderline and avoidance behavior are included here.

Psychotic disorderscan manifest through any of the following symptoms:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized behavior
  • Impairment in reality testing

Schizophrenia is the most well-known disorder in this group. If you know someone who exhibits any of these symptoms, call 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? to discuss treatment options.


It is difficult to diagnosis dual disorders. That is because it is hard to separate what may be occurring due to substance abuse or a mental disorder. Denial is also a common problem that can interfere with proper diagnosis. If you think that you or someone you know may have co-occurring disorders, don’t be ashamed or think you are weak. Admitting there is a problem is the first step toward getting help.

Things that may influence the diagnosis of dual disorders include:

  • Family history
  • Sensitivity to drugs or alcohol
  • Symptoms when you are sober
  • Previous diagnosis of substance abuse or mental illness

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis

The best treatment for dual diagnosis is integrated treatment at a luxury dual diagnosis program, where the substance abuse and mental illness are treated at the same time. Recovering from dual diagnosis will take time but with courage and commitment, you will get better.

Relapses are often part of recovery, so don’t get discouraged if you have a relapse. Getting treatment for all of your disorders from the same high-end treatment facility for co-occurring disorders will help prevent relapses and help you move forward more quickly if they do happen. Please call 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? to discuss treatment options and to get help finding treatment.

Joining a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous can be a great help. These groups allow you to connect with peers who have gone through the same process you are struggling with.

Finding the Right Upscale Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center

“The best treatment for dual diagnosis is integrated treatment at a luxury dual diagnosis program, where the substance abuse and mental illness are treated at the same time.”

When searching for a program for dual diagnoses, make sure it is licensed and accredited. You should choose a program that uses treatment methods backed by research and that has a post-treatment program to help prevent relapses. Make sure that the program has expertise in your type of mental illness.

SAMHSA recommends that a program do the following in the treatment of dual diagnosis:

  • Help you think about the role that alcohol and other drugs play in your life
  • Offer you a chance to learn more about alcohol and drugs, to learn about how they interact with mental illnesses and with medications, and to discuss your own use of alcohol and drugs
  • Help you become involved with supported employment and other services that may aid your process of recovery
  • Help you identify and develop your own recovery goals
  • Provide special counseling specifically designed for people with dual diagnosis issues

SAMHSA offers

an extensive list of licensed, certified drug treatment facilities for co-occurring disorders.

Group Support

Support Group can be a safe place to get help in overcoming obstacles. Often luxury rehab programs for dual diagnosis issues include support groups during and after treatment.

If you’d like more information on dual diagnosis treatment, call us at 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? .

You are never too old to improve your health and quality of life!

You are never too old to improve your health and quality of life!

Call 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers?