Dual Diagnosis

The combination of a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental health issue

Dual Diagnosis: What You Need to Know

It is not at all uncommon for people to struggle with both an addiction and a mental health disorder at the same time, known as a dual diagnosis. In fact, 9.2 million people in the US meet the criteria for a dual diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders or comorbidities).

Historically, treatment centers focused on treating either addiction or mental health conditions. Some still operate this way. But when only one condition is treated, the untreated condition may cause a relapse or hinder recovery. Research has shown that integrated treatment that addresses both conditions in the same setting concurrently offers the best chance of long-term recovery.

Effects of a Dual Diagnosis

Addiction and mental health conditions often perpetuate each other. Those who suffer from a mental health disorder may turn to drugs or alcohol to manage their symptoms, which can lead to addiction. For example, a person who has a social anxiety disorder may use alcohol as a way to help ease the symptoms that result from that condition. However, self-medicating in this way often only serves to make the problems worse. The underlying issues of the social anxiety disorder are left unaddressed, and the alcohol abuse gets worse as the person becomes more reliant on drinking to cope.

Alternatively, drug or alcohol addiction can spur the development of conditions like anxiety, depression, and even psychosis, creating mental health issues that may require treatment. Both conditions need to be addressed so that the individual can recover and lead a healthy life again. A few conditions that most commonly occur alongside alcohol, drug, sex, and or gaming addictions include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A person may be suffering from a dual diagnosis if he or she:

  • Has frequent feelings of anxiety and depression and engages in excessive drug or alcohol use
  • Behaves erratically and self-isolates
  • Engages in risk-taking behaviors and frequent substance use
  • Has mental health symptoms that seem to increase with substance use
  • Has a high tolerance for drug or alcohol use
  • Engages in compulsory use of drugs or alcohol to sleep or feel relaxed
  • Does not seem interested in life activities, is increasingly fearful and closed off
  • Experiences aches or physical pain when not using substances
  • Continually seeks out substances to relieve pain or alter mood

The Stats on Dual Diagnosis

  • Over 47 million US adults have at least one mental health condition, and over 20 million have at least one substance use disorder. Approximately 9.2 million have both (a dual diagnosis).
  • Almost half of US adults with co-occurring disorders are not receiving any treatment.
  • Nearly 360,000 US adolescents suffer from both addiction and at least one mental health condition.
  • 1.3% of all US adults are dealing with a severe mental illness as well as a substance use disorder.

Source: 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

“Nearly 360,000 US adolescents suffer from both addiction and at least one mental health condition.”
-2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Treating a Dual Diagnosis

Evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Motivational Interviewing (MI) have been effective in treating those suffering from co-occurring disorders. These approaches equip individuals to change their thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns to regain balance and maintain recovery. Assistive medications may also be used for those with moderate to severe mental health conditions.

At the Claudia Black Young Adult Center, we excel at treating patients who struggle with a dual diagnosis, even those who have tried and failed treatment many times before. Our expert clinical team places an emphasis on thoroughly assessing each patient to uncover any secondary or co-occurring conditions that often accompany a primary diagnosis, in addition to teaching them the skills needed to navigate these disorders. Our trauma-focused and brain-based approach helps us find and treat the root cause of an individual’s addiction and mental health conditions.

Treatment dual diagnosis


Our experienced, compassionate Admissions team is here to help 24 hours a day and will treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve. Let our specialists help you create a road map to get you where you want to go: a healthier, more balanced, fulfilling place in life. When you call, you’ll be led through a series of questions to determine if the Claudia Black Young Adult Center is the right fit for your needs, and how soon your treatment can begin.

If you are interested in treatment for yourself or a loved one, call or fill out our convenient Admissions form!




Click below to start the admissions process today