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Dual diagnosis is extremely common among addicts and alcoholics around the world. In fact, more than 7.9 million people in the United States alone suffer from dual diagnosis. But, what is dual diagnosis, and what can be done to effectively treat this complex disorder?

A dual diagnosis is when an individual experiences both a mental disorder and substance use disorder in tandem. That means while suffering with mental health issues, this person will also experience problems with addiction.

A dual diagnosis can be any kind of mental health disorder, though it is usually seen with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Receiving a dual diagnosis is not necessarily a bad thing; however, a dual diagnosis does require a different approach to treatment as opposed to the tradition methods when dealing with addiction disorders.

There are a variety of signs that may point to a dual diagnosis as well. If you notice withdrawal from family and friends, sudden drastic changes in behavior, using substances under dangerous conditions, engaging in risky behaviors all around, developing a tolerance for substances and experiencing withdrawal symptoms, and experiencing dependence on substances, chances are you may have a dual diagnosis.

It is also worth noting that a dual diagnosis is more common among men, with 4.1 million men currently suffering from a dual diagnosis.


As stated above, when it comes to dual diagnosis, specific treatment designed to combat the co-occurring disorders is crucial. Without receiving the right treatment, addicts and alcoholics facing a dual diagnosis will find themselves hitting a wall when it comes to recovery and may repeatedly face relapse until the correct treatment plan is administered.

Plenty of treatment facilities talk about providing “state of the art” dual diagnosis care, but what does that entail exactly? With such a complex condition, surely the treatment methods must be equally complex.

Well, not exactly.

The first thing you must expect when undergoing dual diagnosis treatment is receiving the proper diagnosis first. Making sure you get the proper diagnosis is crucial in determining your course of treatment. With so many mental health disorders incorrectly diagnosed or missed altogether, making sure you have the correct foundation is vital to achieving success in your recovery.

Prior to the 1990s, many people who suffered from dual diagnosis were unable to get treatment at all. Many people needed to choose between seeking help for their addiction disorder OR their mental health disorder, with many physicians unaware that the two conditions usually directly impact one another.

Thus, people could not receive proper care. What we now know is that proper dual diagnosis care incorporated treatment plans centered around treating both the addiction disorder AND mental health disorder at the same.

Since one can usually not exist without the other, without attacking them both at the same time, no progress or change will be seen. Treatment plans for dual diagnosis will now treat both disorders simultaneously.

Typically, you should expect to see treatment focusing on both aspects of your dual diagnosis by a specialized team who are experts in both addiction and mental health disorders. Treatment will also generally implement the use of psychotherapeutic medications like anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants. The specialized clinicians will also use therapeutic approaches that avoid negative statements and focus more on building self-esteem.

Lastly, implementing family members into dual diagnosis treatment is crucial for success. By having family and peer support throughout the treatment process, an individual with a dual diagnosis can help strengthen their resolve to both stay in treatment and continue on in therapy throughout their lives.


It’s not easy to find the right drug treatment center, especially when there are thousands of them available and minimal information on how to narrow the possibilities down to the best fit. Choosing the right rehab requires lots of information and answers to tricky questions many people have of the recovery process, such as the difference between inpatient and outpatient programs and how to pay for rehab.


While receiving a dual diagnosis may seem like a bad thing, it actually isn’t as terrible as it seems. Thanks to the dawn of a new age in the mental health field, correct and effective treatment is now readily available making the prognosis of a dual diagnosis much better than in decades past. Receiving this treatment holds many benefits for you and your recovery.

The main benefit to receiving dual diagnosis treatment is finally attaining an answer to the many difficulties that have been present throughout your life. Many people go completely undiagnosed for so long, they are led to believe that there is, in fact, no answer to why they struggle in every aspect. The relief that comes from just being diagnosed alone can help mitigate much of the pressure that comes with living with a dual diagnosis.

Another benefit to receiving dual diagnosis treatment is the likelihood for success in recovery is substantially higher. If you were to just address the issue surrounding your substance abuse disorder, the mental health disorder would still be present and causing issues in your life, making staying clean and sober far more difficult. Without undergoing proper dual diagnosis treatment, relapse may be lurking right around the corner.

The implementation of family and close friends into the dual diagnosis treatment model is also highly beneficial for addict and family member alike. By being included in therapy sessions, family members will become far more educated on what dual diagnosis is and how to handle it.


The next crucial step to see if the potential treatment facility you’re considering even has a dual diagnosis treatment program. Making sure that they not only offer but also specialize in dual diagnosis treatment is important. Many institutions will talk about offering the dual diagnosis program, but making sure it is a good program with proven results is imperative.

Another way you can help distinguish between programs and deciding which one may be right for you is looking at the program’s level of accreditation. Different states provide different accreditations, but looking for a national accreditation such as Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) can help you narrow it down.

Accreditations essentially provide a level of quality assurance, as they are only awarded to facilities and programs who meet rigorous standards of operation set in place by the accreditation association.

If you’re looking for a dual diagnosis program, Drug Treatment Center Finder is here for you! By only listing the best of the best, you can rest assured you’ll find the program that’s right for you!


There are many different drugs available that have varying effects on the mind and body. We've collected the most common drugs and analyzed their effects, statistics, dangers, and withdrawal symptoms. If you are using any of these substances, we are here to help.