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Dual Diagnosis Treatment

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The Connection of
mental illness and addiction

Mental Health and Subtance Abuse

Many who struggle with addiction also struggle with one or more mental health conditions. Depending on the individual, they may be aware of one diagnosis or the other (either their addiction or mental health concerns) before realizing that they have a dual diagnosis. Statistics show as many as half of those who seek treatment for mental illness or addiction also experiences substance use disorder. Co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, are closely connected. While there is little research evidence to clarify whether or not one diagnosis or illness causes the other, struggles with substance abuse or addiction can often lead to maladaptive coping mechanisms and symptoms of new or worsening mental health conditions. Those who struggle with an undiagnosed or even a diagnosed mental health disorder often abuse alcohol or drugs to reduce the intensity of the symptoms they experience. Unfortunately, self-medicating in this way causes side effects, including new or worsening mental health symptoms.

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What are the Benefits of Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

When you have a dual diagnosis, you have both a substance abuse or addiction diagnosis and a mental health diagnosis simultaneously. It can be challenging for medical professionals to know how to treat because both conditions are often significantly intertwined and share similar or often the same root causes. Dual diagnosis conditions often share overlapping symptoms, which make treating one disease without acknowledging the other very difficult and less than beneficial. The best option for someone with a dual diagnosis is to complete a program at a treatment facility where treatment professionals are trained to address co-occurring disorders. 

Dual diagnosis treatment allows the individual and the treatment team to focus on all areas of the problem providing the most comprehensive opportunity for recovery. 

Dual diagnosis programs help identify and address particular mental health conditions that you might struggle with and the emotional and psychological factors that may have led to maladaptive and addictive behaviors. Often, substance abuse develops out of using drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication. Dual diagnosis therapy can help you learn more about how substances are used to self-medicate and then learn healthier, safer coping strategies to use throughout treatment and recovery. Another significant benefit of dual diagnosis treatment is learning how to identify and address potential triggers (including people, events, and places) that impact your behaviors. During treatment, your therapist will help you create a plan to address these triggers, helping reduce the possibility of relapse. 

Dual diagnosis treatment programs utilize evidence-based, holistic treatment such as yoga, massage therapy, meditation, and nutritional counseling in conjunction with traditional therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, to ensure the most comprehensive treatment program possible. During counseling, you will participate in individual, group, and family support sessions that address both your addiction and mental health treatment needs. Groups with family and like-minded individuals who share similar struggles can be instrumental in healing and recovery in a dual diagnosis setting. 

Historically, there was a strong belief that someone with a dual diagnosis should address each issue separately, in separate treatment programs. The challenge with this train of thought lies in how intertwined the issues are. Although one does not necessarily cause the other, they share many symptoms. Also, the desire to alleviate mental health symptoms frequently leads to substance use and abuse, and attempting to achieve sobriety often results in some mental health symptoms. It is a vicious circle that is often difficult to conquer without comprehensive addiction treatment. Fortunately, the medical and mental health communities now understand that addiction and mental health are not separate or discrete struggles. They are quite the opposite in that they are deeply connected psychologically, behaviorally, and often physically. Consequently, the best outcomes are achieved with comprehensive, integrated mental health and addiction treatment. The benefits of dual diagnosis treatment are many, but the most common include the following (some of which have been previously referenced above):

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What to Expect in Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), over 8.5 million adults (or approximately 4%) over the age of eighteen struggled with a dual diagnosis in 2017. Most dual diagnosis treatment programs consist of several parts, including detox, assessment, treatment, and aftercare. Depending on your initial needs, when you begin treatment, the first step is detoxification. The detox process will help you wean off drugs or alcohol in a safe, medically supported setting. Depending on the length and severity of your addiction, this process may take up to a week. After you have cleansed your system of substances, you can safely begin the treatment process. First, your treatment team will talk with you to learn more about your substance abuse and medical history. It is essential for your treatment team to have a complete understanding of your relationship with substances to ensure you receive the most comprehensive treatment possible. A dual diagnosis treatment program will include elements to address both your addiction and mental health needs. As noted above, you will have the opportunity to participate in a range of therapies, including group, individual, and family counseling sessions. In many programs, 12-step programs are also available. Finally, as your treatment program comes to an end, your treatment staff will work with you to design a robust aftercare plan that includes ongoing therapy and support throughout the earliest (and often most challenging) days of recovery. 

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Find the Best Dual Diagnosis Treatment Near Me

If you struggle with a mental health condition and addiction, dual diagnosis treatment is essential to ensure your best opportunity for recovery. Unfortunately, not all addiction treatment programs are equipped to address mental health conditions and vice versa. Therefore, it is critical to research each program you consider before committing to one that may not meet all of your treatment needs.


If you need help finding or learning more about the best dual diagnosis treatment near you, contact the team at My Recovery Source. Our relationships with renowned treatment programs across the nation can help make the research process efficient and effective. Let our team help you take those first steps towards recovery today.

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