5 Questions About Dual Diagnosis Rehab Answered

July 22, 2021

Substance use disorders (SUD) are already difficult diseases to go through. Sadly, some people struggling with drug abuse also suffer from a behavioral or mental health disorder at the same time. This is called dual diagnosis.

This issue is actually more common than people think. National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports about 45% of people dealing with addiction to have a co-occurring mental health disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drug addicts are two times more likely to have mood and anxiety disorders. Alternately, people with severe mental illness are four times more likely to be heavy drinkers.

If you have been diagnosed with a SUD and a co-occurring mental health issue, your rehab plan should involve addressing both issues as interconnected mental health issues. With that said, here are five things you need to know about dual diagnosis rehab.


1. What is dual diagnosis rehab?

Essentially, dual diagnosis treatment programs are specifically curated to treat both substance use and mental disorders. They require integrated and comprehensive care to address both issues adequately. Focusing on just one increases your chances of a relapse and other adverse effects.

Treating dual diagnosis is not the same as treating drug addiction because you have a mental condition to deal with too. Dual diagnosis patients are more complicated to treat because each makes the other worse if left unchecked. It’s also common for some mental illnesses to share symptoms with addiction. This makes determining what causes what more difficult.

dual diagnosis rehab


2. What can you expect in dual diagnosis rehab?

Like with any recovery program, dual diagnosis treatment plans are not one size fits all. Facilities that offer it have a variety of treatment types that depend on your SUD’s severity. You can choose from a range of inpatient and outpatient programs.

Recovering addicts usually choose long-term inpatient programs to heal due to them receiving 24/7 care and attention. On the other hand, some people opt to go through outpatient programs, which allow them to live a life outside.

If you want to know more about inpatient and outpatient programs, read our articles “How To Choose The Best Inpatient Substance Abuse Treatment” and “What Happens In Outpatient Rehab?

The Dual Treatment Process


Although there is a variety of treatments for dual diagnosis, many rehab facilities that offer dual treatment have similar elements and a structured rehab system. Here’s what you can expect before beginning treatment:

— Participating in the intake process, an interview that makes sure that you are fit to join the rehab center. On the same note, it gives you the opportunity to decide if the facility is for you.
Mental evaluations to detect and identify SUDs and mental health issues. As said, the treatment is to help in treating both your mental condition and SUD.

— Education on how mental health disorders affect addiction. You are not the only one to receive this but also your loved ones. Awareness and knowledge on this topic give you a better chance of defeating your addictions.
— You’ll most likely go through detox to get rid of all traces of the substance from your system. Medical professionals will then monitor your withdrawal symptoms.

The Treatment

After all of those, you can begin your treatment. If you are with a good rehab facility, they’ll offer flexible programs to meet your and other patients’ needs.

A massive part of dual diagnosis rehab involves behavioral therapy. The common ones used for dual diagnosis include:

— Individual psychotherapy
— Integrated group therapy
— Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) 
— Dialectic behavioral therapy

Sometimes, dual diagnosis treatment programs combine behavioral therapies with medication. Common medications used include anti-anxiety drugs and anticonvulsants.

While each recovering addict is on their own journey, generally, the stages of addiction recovery chart can guide you on yours.


3. What are the mental health issues associated with addiction?

While there is an array of mental and behavioral disorders (some are even still being discovered and researched), a few repeatedly come up in association with addiction. In some cases, they are the underlying cause of substance abuse; other times, they are an effect. Nevertheless, it’s imperative never to let symptoms go unchecked. They play an essential role in your long-term recovery plan.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

As said in a post by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, GAD affects 18.1% of the US adult population, making it the most common mental disorder in the country.

People suffering from GAD are more likely to abuse substances to cope with or manage their symptoms. They can also be addicted to their prescription medications that treat their anxiety disorders.


Sadly, depression is another common mental health issue today. Many struggling with depression will self-medicate with alcohol and/or drugs. These usually escalate the problem.

Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder may self-medicate or self-soothe with drugs and/or alcohol. They can give temporary relief from manic episodes and emotional situations, which can be addicting to bipolar people.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

As with anyone with a mental disorder, people with ADHD may be more inclined to take substances to cope with their symptoms. They can also become addicted to their medication, stimulants that can create a toxic pattern.

Eating Disorders

People dealing with eating disorders might take drugs that can suppress their appetite.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

If you have PTSD, your brain will produce fewer endorphins, body chemicals that relieve pain and stress and make you feel happy. You’re more likely to turn to substances for that effect.


4. Are there signs of dual diagnosis?

When simply diagnosing SUDs, the traits of an addict or signs of addiction are the main things to look at. But talking about dual diagnosis is more complicated due to the addition of another issue– mental health.

— You turned to drugs and/or alcohol to deal with depression, stress, and anxiety.
— You can’t remember the last time you felt genuine satisfaction without the aid of substances.


5. How to get help for dual diagnosis?

The first step on any recovery journey is accepting you have a problem and actively seeking help. When you reach out for treatment or rehab for your addiction and dual diagnosis, you are that much closer to successfully living the sober, healthy, and fulfilling life you deserve.

addiction rehab dual diagnosis

Are you looking for dual diagnosis rehab centers in Arizona? Or maybe you know someone seeking help. Then, turn to Buena Vista Health and Recovery Center.

You can contact us at (800) 922-0095, or go to any of our locations: 

29858 N. Tatum Blvd.
Cave Creek, AZ 85331

3033 South Arizona Avenue
Chandler, Arizona 85248

5151 East Pima Road
Tucson, Arizona 85712

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