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What is the Process of the Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Dual diagnosis treatment can be successful for those that deal with multiple mental health or substance abuse disorders.

What Is A Dual Diagnosis?

Mental health disorders can be quite challenging to deal with because of the extensive number of complications that could accompany each mental disorder. Additionally, each person is unique, meaning that they will be impacted in altogether different ways. However, things become even more challenging when these mental health conditions co-occur with other medical health conditions such as substance use disorder. This type of medical condition is referred to as a dual diagnosis.

A dual diagnosis (also known as comorbidity) can be defined as a medical health condition characterized by the co-occurrence of a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. This means a person will be diagnosed with a dual diagnosis when they have a substance use disorder and a mental disorder at the same time. 1

Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Mental Health

It's worth mentioning that substance abuse disorders and mental health disorders co-occur frequently, and this is most likely because both sets of medical conditions affect the same or similar parts of the brain. This means that either one can lead to or exacerbate the other.

How Common Is a Dual Diagnosis?

Although many people know the great danger that addiction and substance use disorder pose to societal health and wellness, most are unaware of just how serious dual diagnosis is. According to a study, at least 50% of people struggling or dealing with a substance use disorder will also have a co-occurring or comorbid mental health disorder. Dual diagnosis is so common that it affects millions of individuals globally. 2

What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

dual diagnosis treatment

Although dual mental health diagnosis significantly complicates treatment and recovery from addiction and mental disorders, the good news is that it can be treated. There are several dual diagnosis treatment programs, and these programs are usually carried out in a dual diagnosis facility or treatment center. Some of the specifics of treatment for dual diagnosis vary across each facility; however, treatment for dual diagnosis usually involves all of the following:


In most cases of dual diagnosis, the mental health condition is often caused or worsened by the presence of a substance use disorder, so the first step of treatment is usually detox. Detox involves the gradual or systematic reduction in the levels or withdrawal of the drug or particular substance of abuse implicated in the addiction and substance use disorder.

Detox during dual diagnosis programs is usually accompanied by withdrawal effects that range in severity from relatively mild to life-threatening. This is one major reason dual diagnosis programs must be carried out in dual addiction treatment centers.


Therapy or psychotherapy is another important part of dual diagnosis rehab. Psychotherapy is usually employed to help dual addiction therapy patients identify addiction risks and learn methods or skills on how they can effectively avoid or deal with these risks.

Dual diagnosis rehab patients also learn how to cope with living their lives without substance abuse. Motivational interviewing is one popularly employed type of psychotherapy used to help patients live healthy and successful post-addiction lives. It's also important to note that dual diagnosis therapy is usually carried out in two forms: individual therapy and dual diagnosis group therapy. 3


Medications also play an important role in dual diagnosis therapy, where they are used to manage the several adverse health effects that follow drug withdrawal. These medications may also be used to take care of any other undesirable side effects accompanying rehab for dual diagnosis.

What Are Signs That I May Need Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Just as is the case with several other medical conditions, early detection and early treatment may likely improve the efficacy of treatment results, so you must be able to identify the signs and symptoms of dual diagnosis.

If you or a loved one are currently experiencing one or more of the following, contact a dual diagnosis recovery center as soon as possible. These signs include:

  • Overwhelming and persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Confusion
  • Unwillingness to leave home
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Detachment from reality

What Are the Causes of Dual Diagnosis?

Several factors could contribute to the development or occurrence of dual diagnosis in an individual, and this often changes depending on the person and what disorders they have. Some of these factors include: 

  • Poor self-image
  • Long-term substance abuse 
  • Growing up in impoverished conditions
  • Genetic history of mental health disorders or substance abuse disorders
  • Exposure to drugs, alcohol, or other toxic materials in the womb

Why Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment Effective?

Dual diagnosis treatment is usually effective because not only does the treatment effectively take care of the substance use disorder and mental health condition, but it's also structured in a way that it helps patients successfully move on from previous addiction and mental health problems so that they can live full and free lives.

To do this, dual diagnosis treatment involves helping patients identify why those medical conditions developed in the first place. It also helps them develop coping mechanisms to avoid and deal with these risks.

Why Pursue Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Why should you opt for a dual diagnosis program for treatment when there are several individual treatment approaches for both addiction and mental health disorders? Although there are individual treatments for effectively treating and managing each of these conditions, you should know that comorbidity or dual diagnosis is usually viewed as an "isolated condition."

This is because in dual diagnosis, these two formerly separate conditions have become somewhat inexorably linked, so individually treating each one simply won't work. The substance use disorder and the mental health condition must be treated simultaneously for dual diagnosis therapy to be successful. Regular mental health and rehab centers are usually "incapable" of providing the kind of specialized treatment dual diagnosis needs, so this is why getting treatment at treatment centers for dual diagnosis is advisable.

How Can a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center Help?

dual diagnosis treatment

If you're looking for effective treatment for dual diagnosis, a dual diagnosis treatment center is the best option. This is because, at a dual diagnosis center, you'll have access to the specialized, simultaneous treatment necessary for effecting thorough and complete dual diagnosis recovery. 

What to Expect

The first thing to note is that dual diagnosis treatment centers differ regarding their treatment program specifics. For example, some mental health and addiction treatment centers only offer short- or long-term treatment programs. These long-term dual diagnosis treatments are usually in the form of residential treatment programs, although depending on the severity of the condition and accompanying side effects, they could be in the form of dual diagnosis outpatient treatment.

In a dual diagnosis treatment center, you can expect to meet with a specialist who will conduct a complete physical examination, observe and note symptoms, and then make inquiries concerning your medical history and the symptoms you have observed. They may also prescribe some medical tests. Based on the results of the inquiries, tests, and symptoms observed, your dual diagnosis treatment specialist will then work with you and other health specialists to develop the best treatment program for your particular condition.

Other Things to Note

If your dual diagnosis condition has been present for a relatively long period, you will likely be asked to opt for residential treatment programs. This is because once detox starts, these potentially severe adverse effects will likely accompany your dual diagnosis condition. These symptoms can only be effectively managed when the patient is in a dual diagnosis inpatient treatment program that will allow for constant monitoring and immediate medical intervention. People with less severe conditions usually have the option of choosing between dual diagnosis residential treatment and outpatient therapy.

What Are the Benefits of Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Some of the benefits of dual diagnosis treatment include the following:4

  • Better coping skills
  • Access to community and counseling
  • Whole-body treatment
  • Comprehensive treatment
  • Help people develop and plan for the future

Get the Dual Diagnosis Support You Need at Genesis Recovery

Genesis Recovery is one of the best dual diagnosis treatment recovery center options, focusing on delivering quality healthcare and restoring patient quality of life to optimal levels. Our multifaceted approach to treatment features a combination of multiple evidence-based, effective, and personally specialized treatment approaches to ensure effective dual diagnosis treatment and recovery results.

We offer psychotherapy, medication-assisted treatment, and many other options in order to cultivate a program that works best for what you or your loved one need in order to recover safely and happily.

Reach Out Today

Your wellness is our top priority, and we will equip you with the necessary tools and techniques to achieve sobriety and maintain long lasting wellness. Contact us at Genesis Recovery today.


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