Dual Diagnosis Rehab

Dual Diagnosis Rehab: Treating Addiction and Mental Health

Dealing with addiction is always challenging, but it may be especially difficult for individuals who struggle with mental health disorders. Research shows that many adolescents with substance abuse disorders also have a mental illness. In fact, up to sixty percent of youth involved in community-based treatment programs also have the symptoms to be diagnosed with a mental disorder.

Individuals seeking to recover from mental illnesses and addiction need a unique treatment plan to address both factors simultaneously. To do so, they must seek a dual diagnosis rehab program.

What is Dual Diagnosis Rehabilitation?

Studies show that there is a common link between substance abuse and mental illness. In some cases, a person seeks relief from their mental health problem through drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse occurs more frequently with specific diseases such as depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and personality disorders.

Scientists have learned that people with mental disorders experience brain activity changes that make them more vulnerable to problematic use of substances. These neurobiological changes enhance rewarding effects while reducing adverse ones and temporarily relieve their mental illness symptoms.

Other times, the person develops a mental illness as a result of their substance abuse. Illegal drugs cause mental health problems such as paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations, or aggression.

No matter the reason for the substance abuse, drugs and alcohol can worsen mental illnesses and lead to further psychological problems. Cocaine, for example, can exacerbate the symptoms of bipolar disorder and contribute to its progression.

Therefore, it is necessary to break the cycle of addiction while treating an individual’s mental disorder. That is the goal of dual diagnosis rehab.

Signs that Someone Needs Dual Diagnosis Rehab

The symptoms of dual diagnosis vary, as there are several combinations of mental illnesses and substances. Therefore, it is crucial to look for sudden changes in behavior. These may indicate that an individual is suffering from addiction, mental health disorders, or both.

These sudden changes may include withdrawing or avoiding family members and friends. Additionally, the individual may feel like they can no longer function without drugs or alcohol. They may stop going to work or school and engage in risky behavior.

These warning signs, coupled with extreme mood changes, confusion, or trouble concentrating, are reasons to seek help. Mental health clinics can use screening tools to identify those at risk for dual diagnosis.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Obstacles

If treating a client with a single diagnosis has numerous obstacles, this is all the more so true when dealing with a dual diagnosis. Symptoms are more severe and persistent, which makes it difficult for clients to comply with the treatment.

Sometimes individuals are allowed to drop out prematurely and never finish their program. They are therefore at an increased risk of suicide, especially after failed attempts to rehabilitate.

Another obstacle for treating dual diagnosis is the lack of training many medical professionals receive in this area. Many graduate programs separate mental illness treatment from substance abuse, leaving most professionals trained in either field but not in both. For example, an addiction care specialist may not fully understand the client’s mental illness, whereas a psychiatrist may have only taken a few addiction classes.

Likewise, an addiction recovery facility will often focus only on the client’s addiction despite knowing their mental condition. Usually, they are not prepared to offer mental health services.

It is crucial to get help from dual diagnosis recovery programs to avoid these common obstacles. Specialists know how to deal with the many combinations of addictions and mental illnesses.

How to Overcome Addiction and Mental Health Disorders

Individuals with a dual diagnosis need extra care to progress in rehab. They may need treatment like psychotherapy, medication, behavioral therapy, and peer support groups. That’s why they must seek out a program that meets their needs.

The first step in treatment is performing a full assessment of both conditions. Evaluation can be difficult because many addiction symptoms overlap with those of mental illness. Once the severity of the client’s conditions is known, the treatment process can begin.

The rehabilitation center will likely educate the client and their family about the relationship between their mental illness and addiction. They will then begin teaching the client coping mechanisms to deal with stressful situations and safely navigate their mental illness.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Process

The treatment programs’ steps may vary according to the type of mental disorder and the severity of the addiction. However, they usually involve these steps.


The detoxification process is when the patient undergoes withdrawal, either by stopping substance use abruptly or tapering it off. It is regularly the first step in addiction treatment.

For someone struggling with addiction and mental health problems, taking the first step can be extremely difficult. Individuals may dread losing the substance, along with the emotional and mental effects that temporarily relieved their disorder. Besides, they likely fear the withdrawal process, as it usually comes with undesirable side effects.

Medical professionals can help ease these side effects and make the withdrawal process safer in detox programs. A more tolerable withdrawal process increases the likelihood that the client follows through with their treatment.

Inpatient or Outpatient Rehabilitation

Although detoxification is necessary to begin the road to recovery, it is by no means the end of the client’s addiction. While the patient is past the short term withdrawal symptoms, they still need help to address the underlying causes of their substance abuse. Rehab can help recovering individuals to deal with their cravings in positive ways.

There are two main types of rehabilitation programs: inpatient and outpatient. The main difference is that inpatient programs require clients to live at the rehab facility for a specific period. Meanwhile, outpatient programs are more flexible.

Experts usually recommend inpatient programs for dual diagnosis patients since they need more assistance in their recovery journey. Inpatient rehab programs’ success rate is higher because professionals monitor clients 24 hours a day. If they lack motivation, clients will receive specialized attention and encouragement from the staff.

Inpatient programs can be short-term or long-term. In addition to dealing with addiction and mental health issues, clients learn practical skills to help them succeed. These include money management, social skills, and workforce development.

Outpatient rehabilitation services are great alternatives when a client cannot stay full-time in the recovery center. They will be able to receive care and support and continue to work or care for their family. It is much more flexible but requires the client to be committed to their treatment since they will not be monitored by professionals every day.


Sometimes clients have gone years with undiagnosed psychiatric issues. Depending on the severity of these concerns, they may need medications. These may include antipsychotics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or mood stabilizers. Trained professionals need to supervise dual diagnosis clients when using drugs, which is another reason they often recommend inpatient programs.


This type of therapy will help the client understand the link between their emotions and behavior. They can use this information to understand why they became addicted to substances in the first place and avoid similar patterns in the future.

Usually, clients are encouraged to make some changes in their life to help them avoid returning to their addiction. These may include adjusting specific habits, ending relationships or forming new ones, learning stress management techniques, and finding suitable housing.

Support Groups

It is vital to have a strong support group while receiving treatment. Inpatient rehabs are excellent in this aspect since support groups are usually part of the treatment plan.

These groups provide a comfortable setting for members to discuss their feelings and the issues that they have encountered during their dual diagnosis recovery. Of course, it is also an environment where everyone feels understood because they can relate to the other members’ struggles. Even after leaving a rehabilitation center, participation in these groups is an incredible tool to keep recovering individuals on track.

Aftercare for Dual Diagnosis

Many clients worry that they will relapse after leaving the recovery center. To make the transition more comfortable, they choose to spend time in a sober living home. These homes provide clients with more freedom but are still controlled environments without some of the real world’s stress and challenges.

Clients need to fulfill specific requirements to stay in these homes. These include maintaining sobriety, participating in support groups, and maintaining steady employment. In turn, they continue to receive support and guidance while developing their personal skills.

Even if a client chooses to return home after their rehabilitation program, they can be successful. With the skills and coping mechanisms they learned in the program, they are usually ready to integrate into the real world. Of course, they must be careful of their environment and those with whom they associate.

Find the Best Dual Diagnosis Rehab

If you are struggling to treat addiction and mental health disorders, there is no better occasion than now to get the help you need. With the proper dual diagnosis rehab program, you can recover from your addiction while improving your mental health. We have programs located throughout Texas.

Contact us to receive further information about our dual diagnosis recovery programs.

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