What is Dual-Diagnosis?

Dual-Diagnosis is the term for an individual who meets the criteria for one more mental health issues including substance use disorder, or, addiction. Addiction may be an effect of a pre-existing mental health disorder. Addiction can also cause a dual-diagnosis problem. For example, synthetic drugs can create anxiety and paranoia.

understanding dual diagnosis

Why is recognizing dual-diagnosis important?

Imagine going to the ice cream store and being served scoops of ice cream without a cone or a cup. This analogy resonates what treating just one part of dual-diagnosis would be like. In order to heal the suffering of addiction, the whole being and brain of a loved one needs to be understood. A patient may have difficulty concentrating in process groups or during educational sessions. With a diagnosis of addiction and ADHD, the treatment team can manage a patient’s medication. Furthermore, clinicians work on what information to provide this patient so they learn how to manage their disorder in real life after the treatment center program.

Is all addiction a co-occurring disorder?

Not every addiction disorder comes with a co-occurring mental health disorder. Equally, not everyone who suffers from a mental health disorder is prone to developing an addiction. However, co-occurring disorders are becoming increasingly common. Depression and anxiety might be short term diagnoses. At the onset of treatment, many patients are experiencing depression and/or anxiety as a result of withdrawal.

What are common co-occurring disorders?

Common co-occurring disorders include:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Trauma
    • PTSD
    • Eating Disorders
    • Bipolar Disorder
    • Schizophrenia
    • Schizoaffective disorder
    • Borderline Personality Disorder

How are dual-diagnosis disorders treated?

Dual-diagnosis is treated with careful planning by a treatment team. First, a psychiatrist will likely prescribe medications to make symptoms manageable. Second, counselors will work with the patient to understand how their disorder will interact with recovery from addiction. Specific treatments for both the co-occurring disorder and the mental health disorder may be offered.

How do I know if a facility really treats dual-diagnosis?

Facilities should not be able to advertise their treatment of dual-diagnosis unless they actually offer it. Unfortunately, many get away with this marketing tactic. When looking into treatment, ask what kind of co-occurring disorders they treat and how they treat them. Legitimate facilities will have an answer with tons of information. Others will have simple, surface level answers.


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