dual diagnosis

Dual diagnosis is a term that is becoming more and more synonymous with modern-day-alternative recovery treatments. However, there are both confusion and misconception over what exactly it means to have a dual diagnosis. Since other terms are attached to dual diagnoses, such as comorbid, you might be wondering if dual diagnosis treatment is for you. You also might be chased away by such terms as comorbid. After all, the word morbid is not the best word to hear when considering alternative treatments. Another common concern surrounding dual diagnosis is whether or not further damage can be avoided if you stop drinking and/or using other substances. 


Dual Diagnosis

First, a person will want to know what exactly is a dual diagnosis before seeking help. A dual diagnosis is defined as a person with both a mental disorder and a substance abuse problem. This is sort of the popular term because it is simpler to understand. Comorbid is the actual term that means a patient is suffering from multiple illnesses. The morbid aspect of the term has to deal with the disease side of things. 


Finding Treatment

There is a multitude of options out there that provide quality treatment, however, finding one that is going to meet the needs of a dual diagnosis can be tricky. Most recovery care only treats one or the other: mental illness or substance abuse. There are a lot of recovery programs that separate the two, yet each needs to be addressed for the best possible recovery. This is why it is important to find the right care that will accurately address both illnesses effectively. 


Some Treatment Options


  • SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Treatment): This is a support group that includes people who suffer from multiple addictions. It also incorporates behavioral therapy as well. SMART aims to provide 


  • There are also 12 step programs that will address mental health as well. Double-Trouble Recovery is a 12 step program designed to treat the addiction and its relationship with mental disorder–meaning it with meet the needs of the mental disorder. 


Warning Signs You Might Want to Seek Help for Dual-Diagnosis

If a patient is worried that they need to seek dual diagnosis recovery, there are warning signs they can look for.  

  • Withdrawal: When a person is isolating themselves. During this process, a person will exhibit changes in behavior. 
  • Intake: Have you noticed that your substance intake has increased?
  • Are you currently diagnosed with other disorders and/or taking medication for it? 
  • Risky behaviors: Do you engage in risky behavior? These behaviors don’t necessarily have to revolve around solely drug abuse. Risky behaviors can men reckless abandon for one’s life; driving intoxicated, unprotected sex, episodes of violent behavior, committing crimes, and more.
  • Tolerance or dependency: This goes somewhat hand in hand with intake, however, are you beginning to feel reliant on the substance? Has the substance become the primary way for which you cope with stresses, problems, and self-esteem?  


Reversing/Preventing Further Damage

As far as any damage that’s done, you can’t reverse the problems that are associated with a dual diagnosis. You are addicted to a substance, you have a mental disorder, and therefore you are dually diagnosed and that is that. However, that does not mean that you can’t implement changes and behaviors to prevent further damage. 

  • Timespan: The amount of accelerated damage also depends on how long a person has been abusing substances. Certainly, the longer somebody uses, the more at risk they are for permanent damage.  
  • Prevention: Future damage can always be prevented. When the person discontinues the substance abuse, so does the process of damaging the brain and body.  Alcohol, for example, can cause serious damage to the brain so stopping drinking you eliminate a harmful element. 
  • Get clean now: By eliminating substance abuse, a patient can begin to recover. In recovery, patients will learn how to manage their addiction, recognize the triggers, as well as manage their emotions such as what they do to cope.  


Dual diagnosis is serious and should be taken as such. Finding a treatment that only helps with one aspect can be detrimental to long term recovery. Luckily, there are many more ways to treat dual-diagnosis today than ever before. The best recovery starts with the best education about recovery. Sometimes alternative options a more compatible with patients compared to the traditional methods.  


If you or someone you know is exhibiting the signs of needing care for potential dual diagnosis, know that there are quality programs designed to help with such a diagnosis. True Recovery is one of the leading places to find information about alternative recovery programs. For any questions please call (866) 399-6528.