What Does It Mean To Have A Dual Diagnosis?

What Does It Mean To Have A Dual Diagnosis?

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Of the millions of individuals struggling with drugs or alcohol, a significant number suffer from co-occurring mental health disorders. This condition is referred to as a dual diagnosis. Addressing both components simultaneously through a dual diagnosis treatment program ensures that individuals successfully achieve a healthy and fulfilling life of recovery.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is the presence of a substance use disorder in conjunction with one or more mental health disorders. Dual diagnosis (also known as co-occurring disorders) is a common experience, as 18.2% of adults with a mental illness also suffer from a substance use disorder. [1]

The two components of a dual diagnosis include the presence of:

  • A mental health disorder: Some of the most prevalent mental health disorders in a dual diagnosis include, but are not limited to, anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia[2].
  • A substance use disorder: Substance use disorders include dependence on opioids, alcohol, hallucinogens, stimulants, and any other addictive drug or medication.

Causes and Symptoms Of A Dual Diagnosis

Co-occurring disorders is not always a straightforward diagnosis, as every individual’s substance use and mental health disorders interact in vastly different ways. Both disorders can exacerbate the severity of symptoms of the other, which makes its diagnosis and treatment more difficult to navigate.

For example, one individual’s substance use disorder may cause the development of a mental health disorder. On the other hand, another person might already possess a mental health disorder and later develop a substance use disorder as a means of coping. In some cases, biological or environmental factors such as trauma or genetics can increase one’s likelihood of developing a dual diagnosis.

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No matter the manifestation of each individual’s unique dual diagnosis, some of the most common symptoms include: [3]

  • Social isolation
  • Increased risky behaviors
  • Behavioral changes
  • Dependence on drugs to maintain physical stability
  • Difficulty concentrating and with decision making
  • Suicidal thoughts

How To Treat A Dual Diagnosis

9.5 million individuals in the United States with a dual diagnosis in 2019. However, only 7.5% received treatment for both conditions.[4] Addressing both conditions is crucial for giving individuals the best chance at long-lasting and comprehensive recovery. A trusted drug and alcohol treatment center can help individuals conquer both disorders head-on.

With an integrative treatment approach, both mental health conditions and substance use disorders are treated simultaneously. This begins with understanding the ways that each diagnosis impacts one another. In an integrative treatment plan with Ocean Hills Recovery, licensed mental health professionals combine elements of the 12-step program with various innovative therapeutic interventions to help clients achieve a happy and healthy future.

Ocean Hills Recovery is Committed to Your Journey to Recovery

If you are struggling with addiction and mental health, you are not alone. The compassionate team at Ocean Hills Recovery is committed to delivering personalized care for every client suffering from a dual diagnosis. We understand that recovery isn’t linear: it takes social, physical, spiritual, and emotional support, all of which our team provides.

To work towards a more fulfilling journey to recovery, contact the professionals at Ocean Hills Recovery today.



[1] https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/comorbidity-substance-use-other-mental-disorders

[2] https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/co-occurring-disorders

[3] https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Substance-Use-Disorders

[4] https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29393/2019NSDUHFFRPDFWHTML/2019NSDUHFFR1PDFW090120.pdf



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