What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis, also referred to as co-occurring disorders, is a term used when a person experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously. Each disorder can exacerbate the symptoms of the other, making it a complex situation that can be challenging to treat.

The mental health condition could range from mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders to severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia. The substance use disorder could involve alcohol, prescription, or illicit drugs.

It’s not always clear which disorder emerged first. For instance, someone experiencing a mental condition may turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication. Over time, this can lead to addiction. On the other hand, sustained substance use and addiction can precipitate the onset of an underlying mental health disorder.

Identifying and treating both disorders concurrently is crucial for effective treatment and recovery. Failure to treat both disorders simultaneously can lead to poorer treatment outcomes and a higher likelihood of relapse. Hence, integrated treatment approaches in a dual diagnosis program are critical for successful recovery.

Common Types of Mental Health Disorders that Co-Occur With Substance Abuse

There are a variety of different types of substance abuse and mental health illness combinations. Therefore, there are many types of dual diagnoses. Common co-occurring mental health disorders include:

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Panic disorder
  • Schizophrenia

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Why Does a Mental Health Disorder Co-Occur With Substance Abuse?

Understanding why these conditions often co-occur requires a look at some of the common factors that contribute to their development. Here are some theories:

  1. Self-Medication: One of the common reasons people with mental health conditions resort to substance abuse is to cope or self-medicate. The relief they get from their mental symptoms may be temporary, and they may develop a dependency over time.
  2. Substance-Induced Disorders: In some instances, the substance use disorder comes first and leads to mental problems. The chronic use of certain substances can lead to changes in brain chemistry, leading to symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions.
  3. Mental Health Disorders and Substance Use: On the other hand, an existing mental illness can contribute to substance abuse and addiction. For example, people with conditions such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder may use substances as a form of self-medication, leading to addiction over time.

Whatever the reason for someone suffering from substance abuse and mental illness, seeking addiction treatment with an addiction treatment program that targets dual diagnosis will be crucial for relapse prevention.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs

Receiving treatment for two disorders simultaneously is called dual diagnosis treatment. When battling mental illness and drug abuse, turn to our addiction treatment center in New Jersey. With evidence-based treatment options that can cater to your exact needs, we craft a personalized treatment plan that helps you gain an integrated approach to treatment.


Detox is often the initial step in treating a dual diagnosis. The detox process is designed to rid the body of harmful substances. It’s especially crucial for individuals suffering from addiction along with other mental health issues. Managed withdrawal with medical supervision can reduce the risk of complications, and medication management can ease withdrawal symptoms, providing a safer and more comfortable start to recovery.

Partial Hospitalization Program

At our drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers in New Jersey, we offer a partial hospitalization program (PHP) to help those struggling with a dual diagnosis who are unable cannot attend residential treatment. This type of dual-diagnosis treatment program offers hours of treatment sessions each day while allowing clients to return home at the end of the day.

This blend of intensive treatment and a familiar environment fosters a balanced approach to managing co-occurring disorders. We offer mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment that focuses on delving into the cause of the problem and addressing addictive behaviors during individual and group therapy sessions.

If you or a loved one are struggling with drug addiction alongside any other mental health disorder, we are here to help.

Intensive Outpatient Program

The intensive outpatient program (IOP) at our dual diagnosis treatment center in New Jersey is used to effectively treat co-occurring disorders through a structured, flexible approach. We merge rigorous therapeutic interventions with personal daily responsibilities, ensuring a balanced recovery pathway.

Our IOP employs an integrated treatment plan customized to individual needs, focusing on addiction and other mental health concerns. This holistic strategy encompasses individual counseling, group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), medication management, relapse prevention, and more.

Outpatient Program

Once you start getting ready to return to your normal life, an outpatient treatment program can be the right option for continued care. This level of care gives the highest level of independence while still having access to therapy sessions and support groups.

During our outpatient dual-diagnosis therapy program, you will meet with your therapist and/or psychiatrist on a regular basis to maintain progress in your recovery. We also offer group therapy sessions that focus on relapse prevention, stress-management strategies, healthy communication skills, and more. Additionally, we provide family counseling sessions to help re-integrate you into the community and maintain a sense of balance while transitioning back into your daily life.

Get the Help You Need at Our Rehab Center

When struggling with a dual diagnosis, it’s important to treat both conditions simultaneously as the disorders are often connected. Whether you are struggling with anxiety disorder, eating disorders, or other mental health concerns, we can guide you back on the path to sobriety and mental stability.

Our team specializes in working with a wide range of insurance plans and companies to help you access the maximum benefits available. Give us a call at (833) 680-0142, and a recovery expert will assist you in exploring your insurance coverage options for treatment.

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