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Dual diagnosis: 10 things to know

Home » Blog » Dual diagnosis: 10 things to know

Dealing with substance abuse, alcoholism, or drug addiction is never easy, and it’s even more difficult when you’re also struggling with mental health problems. When you have both a substance abuse problem and a mental health issue such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, this condition is called dual diagnosis. This is when you need real professionals to help. Hathaway Recovery Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center is here to help you.

1. Dual Diagnosis is not an uncommon thing

Mental Health Statistics shows that 1 in every 4 individuals experiences mental health disorder once in their lifetime. The list of possible combinations can be  endless – mental health illness combined with alcohol addiction, crystal meth addiction, schizophrenia and addiction to marijuana, eating disorder, opioid addiction, etc.

National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) states that 45% of Americans suffer from dual diagnosis. A person with mental health issues has a higher risk of developing substance addiction than the general population.

Statistics estimate that 17 million of young adults over the age of 18 in America have had severe mental health problems in previous years. About 23% of these people are involved in alcohol intake and substance use frequently. This gets us a number of 23% American young adults with dual diagnosis.

And only 12% of Americans, suffering with dual diagnosis received specific treatment that cares for both disorders simultaneously.

If you or your loved one is struggling from dual diagnosis please do not hesitate. Contact professionals at Hathaway Recovery rehabilitation center immediately.

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2. There are multiple types of Dual Diagnosis

There are many conduct and mental health issues that usually introduce themselves close to addiction and dual diagnosis. For many cases, they are fundamental reasons for a desire. That’s  why it is very important never to overlook these signs when treating substance addiction.

Some of Mental Health Disorders are more common in dual diagnosis:

In general, a particular subset of mental health problems tend to be closely associated with substance abuse, including:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Depression.
  • Schizophrenia.
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Eating disorders (e.g., bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa).

Please contact professionals at Hathaway Recovery rehabilitation center to help you 24/7.

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3. It is Difficult to Treat Dual Diagnosis

Sometimes it is very hard to understand what symptoms are coming from dual diagnosis, and this is one of the reasons for treatment difficulty. In many cases it can be unclear whether the person is affected by their mental illness or drug/alcohol addiction. For proper analysis, a patient should be treated by a specialist with the experience in dual diagnosis treatment.

4. People with Dual Diagnosis are considered high-risk patients

It is hard to cope with mental illness alone, and added the influence of substance addiction, it is easy to understand why individuals with dual diagnosis are more likely to become violent and commit suicide.

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5. The ones suffering from mental health problems are more prone to addiction and vise-versa.

Mental health illness may lead to substance use through different ways:

  • Self-medication: People with mental health issues may be using drugs or alcohol in a misguided attempt to treat their symptoms and self-medicate. For example, someone suffering from depression might take euphoric effect drugs, such as heroin.
  • Increased exposure to substance use: Some disorders may make you more likely to be exposed to alcohol intake and drug use. An example is conduct disorder in young adults, it was associated with later substance addiction. 
  • Barriers for experimenting with drugs are lowered when a person is struggling with mental issues. These people are more inclined to intake different substances, particularly people with impulse control problems.

The opposite effect is also possible: substance addiction may lead to a mental health disorder:

  • Biological mechanisms: any substance can make an effect on the brain’s chemical balance. And over time this can uncover, exacerbate or create different mental disorders.
  • Environmental effects: an addiction can expose a person to more stress and as a result potential development of mental health issues.

6. Sometimes Substance Abuse Looks Like a Mental Disorder

An abuse or use of a substance may elicit symptoms that are seen differently in the context of organic mental disorders. These symptoms are a direct result of substance use and they are different from those of an independent mental illness itself. The treatment of these symptoms can be more quickly, just by discontinuing the substance use.

Also these symptoms can be related to intoxication effects, withdrawal syndrome, as well as specific patterns of use related to the substance.

Examples include:

  • Result of stopping stimulants can be depression
  • Result of discontinuing benzodiazepines – severe anxiety
  • Methamphetamine-induced mania or psychosis
  • Korsakoff’s syndrome (cognitive and memory problems) – chronic alcohol abuse.

Contact professionals at Hathaway Recovery rehabilitation center to help you immediately.

Call Hathaway Recovery Center today     CALL US NOW: (909) 971-3333

7. The treatment of dual diagnosis must address both mental illness and substance use together.

In the recovery process, a successful treatment will integrate both disorders, rather than make patients work separately on each one. Both disorders have a powerful impact on the patient’s life and when it comes to treating them, can have positive synergistic effects.

In the recovery process, a successful treatment will integrate both disorders, rather than make patients work separately on each one. Both disorders have a powerful impact on the patient’s life and when it comes to treating them, can have positive synergistic effects.

Dual diagnosis patients should be always engaged in the recovery process and be inspired for the change. As drugs and alcohol bring instant positive effect to the person, it is very important that the patient finds their own alternative incentives in the recovery process.

8. There are adverse physical effects of dual diagnosis

The consequences for the health depend on both mental disorder presence and substance being abused. And together they can compound the negative effect of each other, that can lead to exaggerated symptoms of both. People with dual diagnosis are more likely to experience more chronic and extreme symptoms, as well as neglect personal care.

Any addiction and mental disorder has a negative effect on health, ultimately giving rise to:

  • Stroke
  • Heart and blood disease
  • Cancer
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Lung disease
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Muscle and bone disease
  • Nutritional and metabolic disease

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9. There are common underlying factors, that may contribute to a Dual Diagnosis

There are certain characteristics, that can contribute to the simultaneous development of both psychological disorder and a substance abuse:

  • Genetics: Certain dispositions and temperaments are created by genes that make the person more or less likely to develop mental health disorders, or to take drugs. Genes also have an effect on how a substance interacts with the body and brain.
  • Personality: A propensity for novelty-seeking and risk-taking are personality traits that can relate to mental disorders and addictions.
  • Brain chemistry: Both psychological disorders and substance abuse affect a brain chemical called Dopamine. Changes of the brain from one disorder can spur the development of the other.

10. You should start the treatment as soon as possible

If you think that you or your loved ones are struggling with mental health issues and addictions, contact us as soon as possible to know if this is the case and get professional treatment for dual diagnosis.

Dual Diagnosis can be applied to people with either a drug, alcohol, or sex dependency or a low dependency. A qualified treatment that provides psychiatrist, psychology, counselling  or therapy can assess you for this. You may find it extremely helpful to receive a Dual Diagnosis when you have been living with an undiagnosed mental illness for years. Let’s say that you have had to cope with severe mental health problems caused by your depression. In that case, you might have experienced feelings of hopelessness, depression, or self-harm and suspect that such struggles are connected to your traumatic experiences; putting a name to their effects will give you some sense of hope. Eventually, you can potentially treat it if you can name your state.

A dual diagnosis occurs when an individual is affected by both chemical dependency and an emotional or psychiatric illness. Both illnesses may affect an individual physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. Each illness has symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to function effectively and relate to themselves and others. Not only is the individual affected by two separate illnesses, both illnesses interact with one another. The illnesses may exacerbate each other and each disorder predisposes to relapse in the other disease. At times the symptoms can overlap and even mask each other making diagnosis and treatment more difficult.

A person may sincerely try to recover from one illness and not acknowledge the other. As a person neglects his or her mental illness, that illness may recur. This recurrence may, in turn, lead a person to feel the need to “self-medicate” through drug use. Over time, the lack of progress toward recovery on both fronts may trigger feelings of failure and alienation. Perhaps the greatest tragedy is the damage that occurs to the individual’s self-esteem.

There is no single type of dual diagnosis. The reason is that there are numerous forms of psychiatric illness. There are also many patterns of alcohol or drug abuse. As a result, a variety of different forms of dual or multiple disorders are possible.

A variety of problems are possible as a result of a dual diagnosis. For example:

Psychiatric symptoms may be covered up or masked by alcohol or drug use.

Alcohol or drug use or the withdrawal from alcohol or other drugs can mimic or give the appearance of some psychiatric illness.

Untreated chemical dependency can contribute to a reoccurrence of psychiatric symptoms.

Untreated psychiatric illness can contribute to an alcohol or drug relapse.

At Hathaway Recovery, we can help you stop your active addiction and start a new life. You do not have to remain chained to your substance abuse. You can live a life that is happy, fulfilling, and engaging. The life you deserve it.

So, do not wait. Call us right now. Our addiction treatment program can help you get your life back.

When your loved one is in denial about their drug and alcohol addiction, it can be one of the most heartbreaking things to witness. The most important step you can take is to talk to your loved one, set boundaries, express your love and concern, as well as support in seeking professional help. Addiction recovery is a challenging road, but it is one that leads to a lifetime of gratification.

At Hathaway Recovery we understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, and meet the demands of treatment with great energy and attention. Our Treatment design doesn’t make you feel you are currently undergoing treatment. Treatment also includes daily outings, hiking, family education and treatment, social skills, life choices, coping skills and all tools to avoid relapse, and more…


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At Hathaway Recovery, we are devoted to building a world where substance use and mental health disorders are treated with intelligence, love, and compassion.

We teach that unhealthy behaviors are coping skills used to survive past trauma and pain. When unhealthy skills no longer serve us, we are empowered to choose a more joyful and fulfilling path.



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Hathaway Recovery Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center

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Email: [email protected]

Phone: (909) 971-3333

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  • Hathaway Recovery is a very solid, very friendly place. My boyfriend decided to go here and has spent a significant amount of time at the recovery house. They are very good at bringing clients to meetings and on fun outings occasionally! Hathaway is committed to their clients’ recovery and their sobriety and to helping them in any way possible. They go above and beyond for the clients and I definitely would recommend considering Hathaway for your sobriety/recovery.

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