Those who have been diagnosed with both substance abuse and mental health issues are given what’s called a dual diagnosis—but how common are these kinds of diagnoses and why is dual diagnosis treatment important? We’ll answer these and many other questions.

What Does It Mean to Receive a Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis is given when a person with an alcohol, drug, gambling, or other addiction also has a mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD.

How Common Is Dual Diagnosis and Why?

It’s very common to have an addiction and a mental disorder; it’s estimated that as many as 50% of individuals with addiction may also have mental illness.

The reason dual diagnoses are so common is because they can occur and overlap in many ways. A person with a mental health disorder may develop an addiction to a substance they are choosing to self-medicate with. On the other hand, chronic drug abuse can damage mental health and lead to the development of these disorders.

One condition can also worsen the symptoms of the other, continuing the cycle of abuse, along with devastating health consequences.

What Is Involved with Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Treating a dual diagnosis successfully involves providing mental health treatment and addiction treatment together and at the same time. This may include prescribing medications, individual and support group therapy sessions, and participating in cognitive and dialectical behavioral health therapies.

In order to deliver complete and comprehensive treatment for both addiction and mental health disorders, a team of specialists is required, including:

  • Medical doctors
  • Case managers
  • Psychiatrists
  • Other primary and speciality therapists

Is There Any Difference Between Regular and Dual Diagnosis Treatment and, if So, Why?

Addicted people comforting upset woman at psychotherapy session

Yes; where regular treatment addresses the addiction, treatment for a dual diagnosis involves the administering of therapies for both the addiction and the mental health condition at the same time.

This form of therapy, also called integrated treatment, requires developing a detailed and customized plan for the person being treated. Typically, this plan will include different kinds of high-quality care and therapies developed specifically for the treatment of dual diagnoses.

Why does dual diagnosis treatment need to be so different from regular addiction treatment? Some of the many reasons include that:

  • A person may deal with environmental triggers, such as stress or trauma, differently than others do. This can be all that’s needed to develop mental or substance use disorders.
  • Substance abuse can cause a brain response that looks like the symptoms of mental disorders. In those with personality disorders or psychiatric disorders, this can drastically increase the severity of symptoms.
  • Exposure to or experimentation with substances at an early age can cause the later development of mental illness or addiction in later years.
  • A person can be genetically predisposed toward mental illness or addiction, making them more susceptible to each or both and, therefore, more in need of dual diagnosis treatment.

Why Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment Important?

Dual diagnosis treatment isn’t only important; it is absolutely essential. Because one condition can cause the other, along with the fact that there are many ways in which the two conditions can overlap, getting the right treatment definitely matters.

Unless both conditions are addressed with comprehensive and individualized treatment, one can worsen the other, restarting the cycle of abuse and placing you at a greatly increased risk of returning to your substance use.

As well, in not treating a mental disorder, it can worsen significantly, making an individual a danger to themselves and others.

Finally, self-medication can be very dangerous; in using a substance to cope with mental illness symptoms, it’s a lot easier to develop an addiction.

Finding Effective Dual Diagnosis Treatment

happy young woman enjoying freedom with open hands on sea

A dual diagnosis requires comprehensive treatment for substance abuse and mental illness simultaneously. However, not every facility may offer you the best or the right mix of treatment options for your needs. This can lower your chances of long-term success.

Delray Beach Intensive Outpatient is a leading addiction treatment space in South Florida. All the evidence-based treatments we offer are only administered after careful consideration of your needs and preferences.

Why should you choose us? Delray Beach IOP has achieved national recognition with over 30 organizations, and our standards and practices are the highest and best in the addiction treatment and health care industries.

If you’ve been given a dual diagnosis and are ready to receive treatment, learn more about Delray Beach Intensive Outpatient by visiting us online or calling (561) 678-0618