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Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Millions suffer from Dual Diagnosis Mental Health & Substance Use Disorders. With treatment for both illnesses, recovery increases.

What is Dual Diagnosis? How does it relate to Addiction?

Dual diagnosis or co-occurring diagnosis, is suffering from both mental health disorders and substance abuse illness. With dual diagnosis, a person has two different illnesses. Each disorder requires its own treatment therapies. We know that for patients suffering from dual diagnosis:

  • when one illness is ignored, the other will likely get worse.
  • When both illnesses are given proper treatment, the likelihood for lasting recovery is increased greatly.

The occurrence of combined addiction and mental health disorders is incredibly common[1]. Research shows that mental health illness is strongly associated with drug and alcohol addiction.

Dual diagnosis treatment improves recovery outcomes. Providing enhanced opportunities to return to a fulfilling and productive life.

40-60% of adults with a severe and persistent mental health disorder experience drug & alcohol addiction

Combined addiction and mental health disorders are incredibly common. Treatment for both conditions is essential to drive long term recovery outcomes.

8.2 million Americans 18+ suffer from both Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health Illness

About 8.2 million Americans age 18 or older (3.4 percent of all adults) have both Mental Health conditions and Substance Use Disorders pursuant to a 2016 SAMHSA survey. What’s worse, is that only half of adults with co-occurring disorders receive either mental health or substance use treatment. And as many as one-third with co-occurring diagnosis receive no treatment at all for both mental health nor substance abuse challenges.

Over 8 million Americans suffer from dual diagnosis illness. [Source: Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health SAMHSA]

Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders among Adults

In 2011, a USA National Survey on Drug Use and Mental Health showed that 17.5% of adults with a mental disorder had a co-occurring substance abuse addiction [2]. This equates to as many as 8 plus million Americans. [3] Estimates of co-occurring disorders in Canada have been reported at even higher and more alarming levels. Whereas, a study by Kessler et al. in the United States sought to determine the prevalence of dual diagnosis, and found 47% of clients with schizophrenia have a substance abuse disorder at some time in their life.

Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment Center
The process of determining Dual Diagnosis for Addiction & Mental Health Treatment can be complex. For many clients, their underlying mental health problems can be the triggers for substance abuse.

Long-term recovery success may be dependant on comprehensive programs that can treat all of the interlinked illnesses.

Diagnosis of Co-Occurring Disorders

Determining patient dual diagnosis can be challenging. Quite often addiction can be confused with other mental health issues. Because there are diagnoses that overlap between the two, a diagnosis can become complex and even confusing. Symptoms of one disorder can often mimic those of other disorders. Addiction-related symptoms like extreme anxiety, depression, paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations can be very similar to those of mental health disorders.

That’s why diagnoses of primary mental health disorders should not be made without the actual absence of sobriety, with a duration long enough to clear addiction-created withdrawal symptoms of up to one year.

Addiction and Mental Health Dual Diagnosis Treatment

When caring for only one of the two active illnesses diagnosed, your recovery can fracture and be uneven. With missing critical treatment for the second illness, clients miss out on essential therapy to address the underlying causes of the entire illness. Resulting in poor and failing recovery outcomes. When both illnesses are diagnosed, specialists with advanced training can best care for patients. Leading to improving long-term recovery outcomes.

Ignoring one illness will likely result in the other getting worse. Recovery outcome can be significantly improved with integrated dual diagnosis treatment.

Lasting recovery outcomes demand full comprehensive treatment of both illnesses

Frequently it is the mental health illness that develops first. And to less emotional pain, and feel better, many people begin to self-medicate with alcohol and drug abuse creating a substance abuse problem. Whereas, in some cases, substance abuse is the first and primary illness that over time, leads to mental health illnesses like depression and anxiety. To complicate things, where an addiction grows, the deep phycological need and related withdrawal pains to get more and to use often will result in risky behavior with aggravated mental trauma.

Mental Health Disorders are Primary Drivers of Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Did you know that as little as 15% of drug and alcohol addiction illness is the physical act of substance abuse? The addiction over time becomes the most visible behavior but, it’s the remaining 85% of negative mental health behaviors and their symptoms that are the main drivers of the disease. These drivers of addiction can be linked to deep emotional traumas and emotional crises. Which range from anxiety to self-esteem issues to more advanced schizophrenia.

More than half with Depression or Bipolar also Abuse Alcohol and Drugs

Studies show that more than half of the people who have depression or bipolar disorder, regardless of gender, age, race, or socioeconomic status, also abuse alcohol and/or drugs. Hence, addiction should not be seen as a moral issue, but rather a common consequence of mental health triggers. Unfortunately, addicts with a dual diagnosis often have worse physical health problems and greater levels of disability.

When treating clients with both substance abuse and mental health disorders, both illnesses must be treated simultaneously.

That’s why We Level Up Dual Diagnosis Rehab treatment teams apply best practices & evidence-based treatment for client multi disorders getting to the underlying problems behind one’s addiction. And continuously work to improve long term recovery outcomes.

Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs

Integrated dual diagnosis treatment programs provide multiple modalities of treatment. Blending different therapies into a combined treatment action plan. That is both science-based while offering customization for your situation. Integrated treatment offers improved treatment accessibility, service customization, and engagement in therapy with improved outcomes.[8][9] Even the USA government’s own Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMSHA explains that the integrated treatment model as being in the best interests of patients.

Best practices dictated that treatment should be integrated in a collaborative clinical setting between the entire treatment team and patient.

We Level Up Dual Diagnosis Rehab provides integrated treatment to drive improved client recovery success.

The likelihood of developing a substance abuse disorder is significantly higher for patients suffering from a psychotic illness versus those without a psychotic illness.[4][5]. In another dual-diagnosis research study looked at the extent of substance abuse in a group of 187 chronically mentally ill patients. While the study’s ratings, about one-third of the study group abused drugs and or alcohol along with street drugs during the six months before the study.[6] Again demonstrating the clear link between mental health illness and the resulting addiction disorders.

Why Comprehensive Parallel Dual Diagnosis Treatment can be Critical to Recovery

Even today, clients suffering from dual diagnoses continue to encounter difficulties accessing effective treatment. Even worse, many people are declined mental health services if they admit to a drug or alcohol addiction. Also, vice versa, when committing to mental health services.[7] That’s why one should find treatment providers that can tackle all of your issues and challenges in an integrated approach. This is very important to achieve lasting recovery treatment success. Getting into a comprehensive parallel treatment program versus partial treatment for only a single illness can make all the difference in a favorable recovery outcome. Statistics show that only a small fraction of people suffering from co-occurring disorders obtain treatment for their two differing conditions.

In the recent times, almost 90% of people with multiple disorders only received help for one of their illnesses.

Studies show increased recovery success with dual diagnosis treatement

Top-rated Wel Level Up Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center

We Level Dual Diagnosis treatment center has developed a dual therapy program track. Providing a runway for more successful evidence-based modalities for clients suffering from co-existing disorders. Each component of these integrated programs is distinct, with diverse capabilities, and accommodates patients with various conditions from all over the USA. And take a moment to look through the pages and read something about what increasing the centers should have to deliver.

We Level Up is a Gold Seal Recipient and an essential provider of dual diagnosis treatment. Our rehab centers focus on the complete treatment required for both illnesses. We treat the entire individual as a whole – their mind, their body, and their soul. Your dual diagnosis treatment teams provide thorough and comprehensive therapy to clients and their family members. We are committed to providing coordinated and scientific-based treatments that work. Finally, your treatment team will integrate both substance abuse and co-existing mental health problems treatment plans.


[1] Adamson 2006 p. 164-170; Hasin et al, 2011

[2] “What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?”. Oxford Treatment Center. Retrieved 18 January 2021.

[3] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2012). “Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings”. Retrieved 5 April 2013.

[4] Health Canada (2012). “Best Practices: Concurrent Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders” (PDF). Government of Canada. Retrieved 5 April 2013.

[5] Kessler RC; McGonagle KA; Zhao S; Nelson CB; Hughes M; Eshleman S; Wittchen HU; Kendler KS (1994). “Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorders in the United States. Results from the National Comorbidity Survey” (PDF). Archives of General Psychiatry. 51 (1): 8–19. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1994.03950010008002. PMID 8279933.

[6] Regier DA; Farmer ME; Rae DS; Locke BZ; Keith SJ; Judd LL; Goodwin FK (1990). “Comorbidity of mental disorders with alcohol and other drug use. Results from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Study”. JAMA. 264 (19): 2511–18. doi:10.1001/jama.264.19.2511. PMID 2232018.

[7] Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science, and Technology (2006). “Out of the Shadows at Last: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addictions Services in Canada” (PDF). Government of Canada. Retrieved 2 February 2019.

[8] American Psychiatric Association (2006). “Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients with Substance Use Disorders, 2nd ed”. Archived from the original on 14 February 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2013.

[9] Rush B Fobb B Nadeau L Furlong A (2008). “On the Integration of Mental Health and Substance Use Services and Systems: Main Report” (PDF). Canadian Executive Council on Addictions. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3