Dual Diagnosis Treatments Explained

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Struggling With Two Disorders

Dual diagnosis refers to individuals who, in addition to being addicted to drugs or alcohol, also suffer from another psychiatric illness, also known as a co-occurring disorder. It is common for individuals in treatment for substance dependence also to have comorbid psychiatric disorders. Some of these include major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, phobias, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Read on to learn the prevalence of these conditions, the negative effects that they have, and how they should be properly addressed through effective dual-diagnosis treatments.

Dual Diagnosis Statistics

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that dual diagnosis, substance abuse, and mental health disorders affect over 7.7 million people per year in the United States. However, of those individuals, only 9.1% percent receive the appropriate treatment, leaving the rest to self-medicate or possibly fall further into addiction due to their diseases not being acknowledged or addressed.1 Unfortunately, the number of individuals that go untreated is high because many facilities cannot identify or understand dual diagnosis conditions and are unknowledgeable about treatments.

A Difficult Condition to Treat and Diagnose

Alcohol and substance abuse problems often coincide with a variety of mental health disorders. Some of the most common include depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders. The concurrent existence of a mental disorder and addiction in an individual often leads to the exacerbation of both conditions.

It can prove difficult for physicians to identify dual diagnosis in a patient. Due to the many combinations of mental disorders that can occur with substance abuse, there are varieties of symptoms that can present themselves, making it hard to accurately pinpoint which mental disorder has intermingled with which addiction.

Dangers of Leaving Co-Occurring Disorders Unaddressed

While they may be difficult to diagnose, getting a comprehensive idea of the exact nature of a dual diagnosis is crucial due to the risks and dangers that can occur.

Such risks and dangers can include the following:

  • Increased risk of self-medication: People are more likely to use alcohol or drugs to treat their mental health symptoms, which can exacerbate their illness and make them more dependent on those drugs.
  • A vicious cycle can emerge: Left untreated, co-occurring illnesses can lead to a vicious cycle in which substance abuse exacerbates mental illness, which then increases reliance on drugs and further deteriorates mental health.
  • Higher risk of relapse: When only one of the two symptoms of a dual diagnosis is treated, the underlying problems are not remedied. The fact that some people turn to substance use as a coping strategy for ongoing emotional or psychological issues raises the risk of relapse.
  • Escalation of substance abuse: Ignoring the co-occurring mental health illness might lead to continued reliance on substances, ultimately making recovery more challenging.

Negative Effects on Family and Friends

Although a dual diagnosis can be extremely overwhelming and draining for the patient, both friends and family members can also face problems as a side-effect of these comorbid conditions. Treatment is an important resource for all parties to better understand the disorder and how to cope with it. A partner or spouse can become depressed, angry, or resentful about the changes in his or her other half. They may constantly be on edge and live in fear if their partner experiences bouts of rage and aggressiveness.

Partners may also experience emotional distance, specifically towards the individual with the mental disorder. People can also feel isolated if their afflicted partner no longer wants to socialize with them or with others outside of the home. Although there is no formulaic cure for PTSD, therapy along with medication can alleviate its side effects. Our high-end rehab offers an excellent family program that gives patients the space and ability to help their loved ones come to terms with the situation and approach healing.

Effective Dual Diagnosis Treatments at Seaside

A co-occurring disorder can be a daunting medical condition to treat. The combination of substance abuse and a mental health disorder can involve complex treatments. Addiction worsens an individual’s mental disorder, so it is imperative to concurrently treat both.

Seaside Palm Beach is a resort-like, state-of-the-art facility with all the amenities and programs to ensure a comfortable, successful rehabilitation. We are one of the few luxury rehab facilities that act as a dual diagnosis treatment center. Our comprehensive, holistic approach to treatment has boasted high, long-term success rates for over two decades. Our psychiatric and clinical experts will aid in creating and implementing the best treatment program for each individual patient. Our staff aids individuals in identifying and understanding triggers that may lead to relapse so that they can be avoided and sobriety can be maintained.

For more information about our luxury treatment center in Palm Beach and the programs and amenities available, call our team of professionals at 561-677-9374.


  1. NIDA – Comorbidity: Substance Use and Other Mental Disorders

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