About Dual Diagnosis


A person with dual diagnosis (or Co-Occurring Disorders as it is also referred as) has both an alcohol or drug problem and a mental disorder. More often than not, the person is only treated for one of the issues, while ignoring the other, or thinking that the behavior caused by the substance abuse. Many times, the mental problem occurs first. When that happens, many patients begin to self-medicate as an effort to feel “ok” or “normal”. When the substance abuse occurs first, it can, overtime, lead to mental and emotional problems, or uncover these issues which were lingering right below the surface.

There are few treatment centers dedicated to treating complex dual diagnosis. Research continues nationally to reveal that people with co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis need very specialized forms of treatment, sometimes, referred to as integrated services or treatment designed specifically for dual diagnosis. Mental health and addiction treatment continue to be separated systems of care. While many research studies have been performed on mental health and addictions separately, it has only been in recent years that studies have emerged on people who struggle with both conditions in tandem. This emerging research identifies that traditional separated systems of care not only alienate the consumer from treatment, but they also result in much poorer outcomes that those experienced by people with single disorders.

Mood disorders, alcohol and drug addictions are treatable illnesses.

They are not moral weaknesses or character flaws. They can affect anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, or economic background. Studies have shown that more than half of the people who have depression or bipolar disorder also use alcohol and/or drugs. Knowing the symptoms of mood disorders can help you decide to seek help. You can’t diagnose yourself. Only a health care professional can diagnose and treat a mood disorder. When neither illness is treated, one illness can make the other worse. When only one illness is treated, treatment is less likely to be effective. When both illnesses are treated, the chances for a full and lasting recovery are greatly improved, and it is easier to return to a full and productive life.