Dual Diagnosis & Co-Occurring Disorders

Information about Alcohol Abuse and Drug Addiction and Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders

Dual diagnosis is a term used to categorize individuals with coexisting substance abuse issues and mental health disorders. Thanks to recent research and advancements in addiction treatment in the United States, the awareness of co-occurring disorders has increased. It is a surprisingly common occurrence in the chemical dependency treatment industry. Studies have suggested that over one-third of people with a mental illness diagnosis also experience problems with drugs and alcohol. The relationship between chemical dependency and mental health disorders is complex and intertwined. Many people will use drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication. Mind-altering substances can help an individual feel better for a short period of time, but ultimately, drug and alcohol use only perpetuates the mental health disorder(s) making them worse. In addition, substance abuse can cause a person without mental illness to experience psychosis, or disruptive thoughts and behaviors that separate the user from reality. Lastly, dangerous drug and alcohol use can make a personal feel significantly worse than they do while sober. For instance, alcohol is a known depressant that often causes negative emotions and self-destructive behaviors and suicidal thoughts. Also, certain drugs can cause painful and dangerous withdrawal symptoms for individuals who become addicted, or dependent, on these substances. Overcoming these disorders is extremely difficult without professional, structured rehabilitation. Dual diagnosis treatment is one of the best ways to overcome co-occurring mental illness and chemical dependency.

What is dual diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders, is defined as a condition where individuals suffer from substance abuse or chemical dependency and at least one mental illness at the same time.

Is there a difference between dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorder treatment?

No – dual diagnosis treatment and co-occurring disorder treatment are two different terms to describe the same situation. Both words refer to an individual suffering from alcohol and drug abuse and mental health disorders concurrently. When reading literature or doing research, this duality can sometimes be confusing, but don’t let it complicate your information-gathering efforts.

What disorders do dual diagnosis rehabilitation facilities treat?

Most dual diagnosis addiction rehabilitation facilities are licensed to treat the following co-occurring mental health disorders:

  • Depression

  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

  • Acute stress disorder

  • Anxiety disorder

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Panic disorder

  • Pain disorder

  • Phobia disorders

  • Sleep disorder

  • Sexual and paraphilic disorders

  • Eating disorders

  • Body dysmorphic disorder

  • Gambling disorder

  • Conversion disorder

  • Delusional disorder

  • Gender identity disorder

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Dissociative disorder

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Schizophrenia

This list of mental health disorders is not meant to be all-inclusive, as there are many different varieties of generalized issues. Instead, use this list as a primary guide to find help for yourself or a loved one. Check with specific dual diagnosis addiction treatment facilities to ensure that they have the experts on staff to help the individual in need.

What treatments are available for individuals with dual diagnosis conditions?

The treatment of co-occurring chemical dependency and mental health disorder is a complex process that requires specialized rehabilitation modalities that are only offered at licensed treatment facilities. There are a variety of detoxification and treatment options for those in need:

Detoxification – Before drug addicts and alcoholics enter a rehabilitation facility, they may need to enter a detox facility in order to safely withdrawal from alcohol and or drugs. Certain substances, mainly alcohol, benzodiazapines and opiates, can cause severe withdrawal symptoms that can result in death. Medically managed detox centers provide around-the-clock care to monitor patients and administer medication to ease the withdrawal symptoms. Once the individual is stable, he or she can enter a structured dual diagnosis treatment program for chemical dependency and mental health issues.

Inpatient or Residential Treatment for Co-occurring Disorders – Certain facilities are licensed to provide integrated treatment, which involves a singe, coherent rehabilitation package. This is the best option for treating dual diagnosis individuals. Inpatient treatment that addresses both issues at the same time and thus, translates into faster, more comprehensive progress. Individuals typically have a better overall experience and are able to build a solid foundation for long-term recovery.

Parallel or Concurrent Treatment – Parallel treatment is when an individual receives treatment for both chemical dependency and mental illness through separate programs and rehabilitation modalities. There are Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) or outpatient treatment services for substance abuse and chemical dependency that provide valuable treatment through individual counseling, group therapy, educational classes, and relapse prevention. Mental health organizations provide similar programs that help individuals overcome the barriers and problems caused by mental illness(s). Together, parallel rehabilitation programs can significantly help an individual on his or her road to recovery.

Partial Treatment  – Partial treatment involves treating the issue that presents as the primary issue, whether substance abuse or mental illness, then finding an additional rehabilitation facility to address the remaining issue. This is sometimes called sequential treatment. Sequential treatment tackles the most threatening disorder first then treating the secondary disorder after the primary issue has been stabilized.

There may be other treatment options available to you or a loved one. Check local resources and use the Internet to research reputable treatment facilities. Find out if your insurance plan provides coverage for mental health disorders and/or chemical dependency. This may help narrow your search for a reputable rehabilitation facility. If you do not have insurance, look for treatment centers that fit your budget or offer a sliding fee scale to families who qualify. Lastly, remember to ask questions, express your concerns and read online reviews to get a better feel for the quality of each organization.

GetRehab.Info employs highly trained experts who understand the dual diagnosis treatment industry. Our Admissions Specialists will provide valuable insight and information during your search to find a trusted rehabilitation facility. GetRehab.Info can verify insurance coverage, check availability, and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of numerous facilities.

Every employee genuinely cares about the recovery process and will do everything they can to help you in your journey to find help.