What Do You Understand By Dual Diagnosis In Addiction Recovery: Experts Answer


If you need to know more information about dual diagnosis, this guide will be helpful. We will go into the definition of it and discuss how it ties into addiction recovery. You or someone you know may be dealing with something other than addiction itself.

If you need more information and need a rehab facility that can help, try Epiphany Wellness. You’ll find everything you need to know about taking care of yourself during the recovery process. This includes the treatment you need for both your addiction and mental illness.

Let’s take a look now at what the experts can tell you about dual diagnosis.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is what happens when you are diagnosed with both an addiction and a mental illness. Most of the time, a mental illness may precede the addiction itself. Yet, both can be discovered at the same time.

Since it’s called a dual diagnosis, this will give you a more detailed treatment plan to attack these issues from as many angles. 45 percent of those who have dealt with addiction were also diagnosed with a mental disorder that had occurred alongside it (NSDUH). It is important that those who have undergone a dual diagnosis get the treatment they need and follow the plan as directed.

When one disorder is being treated, don’t leave out the other

While a substance addiction will need treatment, oftentimes it’s given 100 percent attention. For that reason, the mental disorder one may be dealing with will go untreated. This is counterintuitive since the mental disorder can continue to exacerbate the addiction.

Because of this, both your addiction and mental disorder must be taken care of at the same time. You will need to attend regular counseling sessions for both issues during the recovery process. You will have a schedule where you may meet with your respective counselors on alternative days.

For example, your mental health counseling can be on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Likewise, you can meet with a substance abuse counselor on Tuesdays and Thursdays. While this is an example, it’s important to have regular scheduled sessions throughout the week.

Knowing the warning signs can be helpful

Diagnosing a co-occuring disorder can be difficult. The reason for this is due to the warning signs that can occur from one person to another. These signs include but are not limited to the following:

  • Refusal for treatment (including complying or seeking treatment)
  • Behavioral changes
  • Not enjoying events and activities they usually are a part of
  • Neglecting their hygiene and overall health
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors (even mentioning it)
  • Financial problems
  • Poor work or academic performance
  • Cognitive impairments

Those with co-occurring disorder should not self-treat

Co-occurring disorders should be treated by professionals. Preferably at an inpatient rehab center. The reason for this is that you will have medical and mental health professionals that will be on-site 24/7 to help you deal with any adverse situations that may occur.

These may include withdrawal symptoms you’re undergoing and episodes related to your mental disorder. This is a much safer option compared to treating yourself at home. Self-treatment carries more risks than benefits.

This can include a higher chance of relapse. On top of that, this also includes dealing with serious withdrawal symptoms that can be fatal if untreated. Either way, if you or someone is dealing with a co-occurring disorder, the smart thing to do is to trust the professionals and allow them to do the work they need to do for your treatment.

Refusing to seek treatment can only make the situation worse. The sooner you take care of this, the better you’ll feel later on.

Why do substance abuse and mental disorders happen at the same time?

There are several factors that can cause substance abuse and mental disorders to happen at the same time. These can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Past trauma: One of the most common factors can be due to trauma. This can be physical, mental, or sexual trauma among others.
  • Stress: You may be dealing with stress for a long period of time. Mental disorders can develop over time if you find yourself stressed out and unable to do anything about it. Addiction can also be triggered by stress as a way to ‘escape’ from it.
  • Genetics: If you have parents or grandparents that have had addiction or mental issues, it may be a higher than likely chance that you may develop it yourself.
  • Environment: Environmental factors can play a role in both disorders developing. You may be surrounded by traumatic or stressful situations. To that end, you may also be in an environment where drug activity occurs on a regular basis. Pulling yourself out of this environment will be one of the quickest adjustments you need to make during your treatment process.

Treatment will be continuous

Even if you are recovering from addiction, you still need to focus on aftercare. The same will apply for your mental disorder. As long as you stick with the plan, you can still be able to live a fulfilling life.

You can enjoy the activities you’ll love. You’ll spend time with family and friends. You’ll be happy knowing that your support group will be at your side whenever you’re having your bad days.

Since addiction is a chronic disease, the chance of relapse can occur. But it’s up to you to make sure you stay clear from it as often as possible.

Final Thoughts

If you are dealing with a co-occurring disorder, know you are not alone. It’s important that you focus on treating both your mental disorder and substance abuse addiction. You will have a treatment plan that is comprehensive and will take care of both issues from all kinds of angles.

It would be a mistake to focus on one disorder and disregard the other. Get the help you need now and make sure that your future is much brighter.


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