What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

One of the most common risk factors for addiction is a pre-existing mental health disorder. According to the National Institute of Health(NIH), about 37.9% of American adults with a substance abuse disorder also suffered from a mental health condition, while about 18.2% of American adults with a mental health condition also struggle with a substance abuse disorder. When someone suffers from two separate conditions that correlate with each other like this, it is known as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. 


Substance abuse often develops as a consequence of people suffering from mental health issues attempting to self-medicate in order to ease their symptoms, but it may also arise as people become dependent on the medication prescribed by their doctors to treat their mental health condition, such as a patient being prescribed Xanax to treat an anxiety disorder. Other people may already be struggling with substance abuse, and develop a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety as a result of the negative impact substance abuse has on their daily lives. This often traps people in a cycle of abusing substances in order to cope with the symptoms of their mental health condition in the short term, which ends up exacerbating the condition in the long term. The aim of dual diagnosis treatment is to break this cycle by addressing both substance abuse disorder and the underlying mental health condition at the same time as interconnected issues. When both conditions are tightly linked like this, treatment can be ineffective if it does not address the underlying mental health condition at the same time as the substance abuse disorder. 


Some mental health disorders are more commonly associated with substance abuse disorders than others. Some of the most common co-occurring mental health conditions include:

  • ADHD 
  • Anxiety/panic disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Major depressive disorder
  • PTSD and CPTSD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders

What can you expect from dual diagnosis treatment?

Because some forms of therapy are more effective to treat certain types of mental health disorders (for example while cognitive behavioral therapy might be more suited to someone struggling with depression, dialectical behavioral therapy might work better for someone struggling with an anxiety disorder), dual diagnosis treatment programs vary from person to person, depending on what the best option for them is. There are commonalities between all individual treatment plans, however. 


Before treatment can begin, each patient partakes in the intake process, which is used to assess your individual situation and needs so we can develop a treatment that is best suited to your needs. Staff will conduct mental health evaluations to identify your substance abuse disorders and mental health disorders, and learn about your particular struggles and situation. The intake process also serves to make sure that Sunshine Behavioral Health is the right choice for you or your loved one. Support from your family and loved ones can often be vital in recovering from a substance abuse disorder, and throughout the treatment process, Sunshine Behavioral Health will work with you to teach your loved ones about your substance abuse disorder, and how they can best help and support you on your journey to recovery. 


After the intake process is complete, the first stage of treatment is detoxification or detox. This is the period during which all traces of drugs and alcohol are removed from your body. Detox is often the most difficult part of the rehab process where you experience the most intense withdrawal symptoms. The detox process always occurs on-site at our inpatient treatment facilities, as detoxing can be dangerous without proper oversight. During this process, Sunshine Behavioral Health staff will monitor your condition, and help to manage your withdrawal symptoms with medication if needed. During the detox process, patients are not expected to partake in group activities or treatment-related tasks, the goal of the detox process is to allow the patient to rest as they manage withdrawal symptoms as their body purges itself of alcohol and drugs. The detox process lasts up to two weeks, and once the detox period is over, recovery can begin. For most clients, treatment programs continue at our inpatient treatment facilities, though after the detox process, some clients may find that our intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment program works best for them. 


Sunshine Behavioral Health has several types of world-class treatment programs, and we are eager to work with clients to find a program that is best suited to their particular needs. Our programs include traditional 12-step programs typified by Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as non-12-step programs such as SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) recovery, holistic rehab, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT.) First developed in the 1960s by psychiatrists, CBT is one of the best treatment options for those struggling with dual diagnosis because of its wide use in treating a variety of mental health conditions that commonly co-occur with substance abuse disorder, as well as substance abuse disorder itself. CBT is a form of talk therapy designed to help patients interrupt and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. Its focus on changing thought patterns and behaviors and replacing them with healthier behaviors can make it an ideal choice for treating substance abuse disorders as well as the mental health disorders that co-occur and exacerbate them. CBT’s flexibility means it is also often combined with other treatment programs for greater efficacy. 


Addiction is a difficult disease to deal with, and with a dual diagnosis, it is easy to feel as though it is impossible to get help, but that is not true. At Sunshine Behavioral Health we make it our mission to provide the highest quality substance abuse treatment services and deliver them with passion, integrity, and company spirit. With a variety of evidence-based treatment programs and world-class staff at five locations, we are here to help you or your loved one overcome their substance abuse disorder. Please reach out today. 


Learn more at sunshinebehavioralhealth.com








Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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