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Dual Diagnosis Definition – Intersection between Substance Abuse & Mental Health

Home » Blog » Dual Diagnosis Definition – Intersection between Substance Abuse & Mental Health

Dual diagnosis is also referred to as co-occurring disorder. It refers to the presence of a substance abuse or addiction and a mental illness. The two conditions may intertwine, causing them to exacerbate one another and making recovery difficult. It is essential to recognize the link between mental health and substance abuse and the signs and symptoms to help individuals regain control of their lives.

Substance abuse and mental health: A complex relationship

Substance abuse and mental illness are closely linked. Substance abuse may trigger mental issues, exacerbate existing ones, or allow people to self-medicate. Substance abuse can also be used by those with mental disorders to alleviate symptoms temporarily.

Substances such as alcohol, prescription drugs, or other substances can prolong psychotic reactions or worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression. Substance abuse can also increase the risk for mental disorders among predisposed people. Alcohol and drug abuse can also make prescribed medication less effective, hindering recovery.

Recognizing Dual Diagnosis

It can be challenging to identify dual diagnoses because symptoms differ depending on the mental health condition and substance being abused. For example, signs of depression and marijuana abuse may vary from those of schizophrenia and alcohol abuse. There are a few warning signs that can indicate co-occurring disorders:

  • Substances are used to deal with emotions, fears, and memories.
  • Observing a relationship between substance abuse and mental health, such as feeling depressed after drinking or using drugs in stressful situations.
  • Family history of mental illness or substance abuse
  • Even when sober, you may experience unbalanced emotions.
  • Prior unsuccessful addiction or mental illness treatment due to complications from co-existing disorders.

Common co-occurring disorders: Symptoms and signs

Mental health disorders often associated with substance abuse include depression, bipolar disease and anxiety disorder.

Depression symptoms and signs

  • Feelings like helplessness or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest and enjoyment in daily activities
  • Unable to enjoy pleasure
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Sleeping changes
  • Loss of Energy
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Concentration problems
  • Anger, physical pain, and reckless behavior are common in men.

Common symptoms and signs of anxiety

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Feeling restless, jumpy, or restless
  • Feeling “on edge” or irritable
  • Shortness of breath or racing heart
  • Dizziness, nausea, or trembling
  • Headaches and muscle tension
  • Problems concentrating
  • Insomnia

Bipolar disorder: Common symptoms and signs of Mania

  • Feelings such as euphoria, extreme irritation, or irritability
  • Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs
  • Sleeping less is better for you
  • Energy consumption increases
  • Rapid speech and racing thought
  • Impaired judgment and impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity
  • Anger or rage

Other mental health issues that are commonly associated with substance abuse and addiction include Schizophrenia, Borderline personality disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Treatment of Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis treatment requires an integrated, multi-faceted approach that simultaneously addresses both substance abuse and mental disorders. Treatment for both diseases must be provided by the same team or provider to ensure long-term recovery. Mental health treatment options include medication, group or individual counseling, lifestyle changes, peer support, and self-help strategies. Treatment plans for substance abuse include behavioral therapy, support groups, and withdrawal management.

The treatment of co-occurring disorders should be guided by several principles:

  • Addiction and mental illness can be addressed simultaneously.
  • Include the individual in decision-making and set realistic goals to achieve change.
  • Educate the public about disorders and their challenges.
  • Teaching healthy coping techniques to deal with stress and substance abuse will enhance relationships.

Finding the right treatment program

Finding a suitable treatment program is essential for a successful recovery after a dual diagnosis. When selecting a treatment program, consider the following:

  • License and Accreditation – Ensure that the program has been appropriately licensed and accredited to provide comprehensive care.
  • Research-based Treatment Methods: Search for programs that use proven treatment methods to address dual diagnosis.
  • Aftercare Support: Check the availability of support after treatment to help prevent relapses and maintain long-term recovery.
  • Check the program’s specialization in relation to the relevant mental health issue.

A holistic treatment program is essential to a successful program. It should include a focus on substance abuse as well as mental health.

Self-Help Strategies

Individuals can also adopt self-help techniques to address mental and substance abuse effectively. In addition to mental health treatment, it is essential to develop healthier coping strategies. Here are some tips to help you:

1. Manage stress and emotions:

  • Stress management is a great way to deal with life’s challenges without using substances.
  • Face your unpleasant feelings instead of suppressing them with substances.
  • Recognize triggers and create a plan to avoid relapses during difficult times.

2. Connect with others:

  • Face-to-face interaction with family and friends is essential to create a positive support system.
  • Participate in therapy or support groups and follow medical advice.

3. Make healthy lifestyle changes:

  • Regular exercise can reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.
  • Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and deep breathing can help you to feel better.
  • To support your mental and physical well-being, maintain a healthy diet and get enough sleep.

4. Find new meaning in life:

  • Consider new hobbies and activities that will bring you fulfillment and purpose. This will reduce the appeal of substances.
  • Make positive changes to your social circle and other activities to avoid triggers that may lead you into substance abuse.

Supporting loved ones and forming a group

Support groups are a great way to maintain sobriety or seek help. Twelve-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous offer peer support and provide principles for maintaining sobriety. It’s essential to establish boundaries with a loved one with dual diagnoses, learn about their conditions, and get emotional support.

Hathaway Recovery rehab for dual diagnosis offers a program that incorporates evidence-based therapies such as behavioral and experiential therapy. Our holistic healing program can help you grow and give your life new beginnings.

We value your privacy and comfort. You will feel relaxed in our luxurious and state-of-the-art facilities. Hathaway Recovery has a professional and compassionate team ready to assist you.

Our center provides private rooms, individual attention, and treatment programs. Our staff includes the best specialists. Our mission is to Renew and Rebuild Lives.

Contact the Admissions Department at (909) 971-3333 if you have any questions.

Information is kept completely confidential.

Don’t miss the chance to better your life.

  • Counseling Individuals
  • Group counseling
  • Family Drug Education
  • Relapse Prevention Therapy
  • Counseling for Grief

Dual diagnosis is a unique situation that requires a holistic, integrated treatment approach from dual diagnosis treatment centers. Understanding the relationship between substance abuse, mental health, and the treatment of those conditions, as well as recognizing signs and using appropriate treatment, can help individuals embark on the journey to recovery.


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  • I came to Hathaway Recovery on court orders stemming from charges due to not taking medications for my mental health. I was fearful of what my future held and what that would look like. I have never been to a dual diagnosis treatment program before, and I didn’t know what to expect. I really didn’t think I had a substance abuse problem but after about 3-4 weeks of group therapy and the counselors here at this facility, I finally realized substance abuse influenced me to not be able to take care of my mental health. With the help of Hathaway Recovery’s team, I was able to build a strong foundation for my recovery that is vital to me and my family. The clinical staff, therapist, case managers, and counselors included, were honest, caring, and really helped me gain the knowledge I needed to build this recovery program and lifestyle. I am forever grateful for the treatment at Hathaway Recovery.

    Transition A.
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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.

  • “There was no longer any doubt in my mind that I was in the right place for my drug abuse treatment, “Of all the rehabs I could have chosen, I am glad I picked The Hathaway Recovery Support hope respect and care is what i was offered thanks for everything Hathaway recovery you are the best

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    Hathaway Recovery is an exclusive addiction rehab treatment center in California offering healing recovery from all substances. We’re proud to provide a great combination for drug, alcohol, psychiatric and psychological recovery treatment backed by experts in the addiction treatment field. Our drug and alcohol rehab is built on the cornerstone of care and compassion and accommodates clients and their families from all backgrounds to educate, inform, and create change around substance use disorder. In a secluded mountain hill luxury resort, our facility offers a therapeutic environment and array of clinical modalities to help individuals and their families. Our staff are also multilingual to address the needs of clients from anywhere in the world.

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