Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The term “dual diagnosis” refers to the status of patients who exhibit the symptoms of two or more co-occurring disorders. In most cases, one of the disorders is an addiction to alcohol or another drug of abuse, and the other disorder is often a mental health disorder. The combinations are almost endless, but the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders identified in addicts and alcoholics include:

  • Vice addiction (e.g., gambling addiction, sex addiction, shopping addiction)
  • Eating disorder (e.g., anorexia, binge eating, bulimia)
  • Mood disorder (e.g., bipolar disorder, depressive disorder)
  • Personality disorder (e.g., borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder)

When a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder coexist, it is necessary for the patient to undergo treatment that includes therapeutic and medical intervention for both disorders simultaneously. The more integrated and comprehensive the treatment program, the more likely it is that the patient will be able to avoid relapse in recovery.

Why Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

In the past, it was thought that the patient should first address their substance abuse disorder and then tackle their mental health symptoms. However, study after study has demonstrated that it is far more effective for patients to address both issues at the same time during treatment. Why? The use of drugs and alcohol makes it more difficult for the patient to be present and engaged in a mental health treatment program. They are less likely to adhere to therapeutic and medication schedules, and progress – if any is made at all – is slow.

Should the patient attempt to get treatment for their addiction issues and postpone a serious investigation into their mental health disorder, the symptoms they experience will likely make it difficult to remain clean and sober. Many patients attempt to “self-medicate” their mental health symptoms with drugs and alcohol. Without the drugs and alcohol, they are uncomfortably aware of their symptoms and find it difficult to focus on their treatment.

When both disorders are treated at the same time, the patient’s ability to focus and engage without relapse is exponentially increased.

A Prominent Problem

Though many drug rehabilitation programs in the United States – especially bare-bones treatment facilities that offer only detox assistance or government-funded centers – offer treatment for drug addiction issues, few have the resources to provide in-depth and comprehensive care to those patients who are also living with a mental health disorder.

It’s an issue that cannot be ignored. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that 37 percent of patients diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder are also living with a mental health disorder. Additionally, another 53 percent of patients with an active addiction to drugs also had a diagnosable mental health disorder. Without treatment that addresses both issues, these patients will not fare well in a “one-size-fits-all” basic treatment program. Instead, they will often relapse within the first year of recovery and ultimately return to a full-blown addiction.

Constellation Behavioral Health offers integrated, treatment programs for adults and teens that offer a wide range of evidence-based therapeutic interventions to ensure that patients receive the care they need to heal on all fronts. Contact us at the phone number listed above to learn more about our drug rehabilitation options and dual diagnosis treatment programs.