Recovery Center Blog

What is Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment?

Written By Recovery Centers - July 5th, 2022
What is Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment?

Living with addiction can impact a person’s life in many ways. Those who live with substance abuse may experience a range of consequences to their physical and mental health. The impact of addiction is not limited to only the person living with it. The effects of the addiction may also seep into their relationships and communities.

Many barriers prevent people from seeking the help they need to overcome addiction. One challenge that keeps people from seeking treatment is having a dual diagnosis–living with a mental illness and substance abuse.  Dual diagnoses are relatively common. Approximately 4 million people in the United States require dual diagnosis treatment, but only about 8% of them get the help they need.[1]

Not getting treatment for a dual diagnosis can lead to severe, sometimes life-threatening problems. People are prone to relapse without treatment to address their addiction and mental illness. Without the proper treatment, people with a dual diagnosis will likely continue abusing substances and live with worsening symptoms and consequences of their addiction.

Do I Need Dual Diagnosis Rehab?

In some cases, a doctor or addiction specialist will give you a diagnosis of a substance use disorder and a mental illness. Even without a formal diagnosis, some people live with symptoms of both conditions and may wonder if they require dual diagnosis treatment.

The first step toward getting the effective treatment you need is receiving a professional diagnosis.

Some signs that you may be living with a dual diagnosis include:

  • Being diagnosed with either a mental illness or a substance use disorder
  • Starting to use drugs or alcohol after a traumatic event
  • History of bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, or borderline personality disorder
  • Using drugs or alcohol despite adverse consequences (job loss, loss of relationship, financial or legal problems, damage to physical health)
  • Changes in mood, sleep, or appetite
  • Increased isolation or relationship strain
  • Using a lot of time and energy getting, using, and recovering from drugs or alcohol

If you live with mental illness and substance abuse symptoms, you must get an evaluation to see if you require dual diagnosis rehab. It is challenging to recover from either condition without treating both simultaneously.

What Happens in a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program?

Dual diagnosis rehab is similar to other substance abuse treatment programs but is adapted to include equal time for mental health treatment. The structure and adaptability of dual diagnosis treatment help people recover from addiction and learn to manage the symptoms of their mental illness.

Like other substance abuse treatment programs, a dual diagnosis treatment program can be adapted to meet an individual’s unique needs. Generally, dual diagnosis addiction treatment follows a four-phase format.


The treatment staff will evaluate you to help decide the best course of treatment for your unique needs. This may include getting information about medical conditions and your history of substance abuse. The specialist will use this information to recommend a level of care or shape your treatment plan.


During a medically-supervised detox program, you will be monitored and treated for your withdrawal symptoms. Medical and support staff will provide treatment, including comfort care and medications,  for withdrawal’s physical and emotional symptoms. This will help you achieve a complete detox as safely and comfortably as possible.


After completing detox, you will begin a treatment program designed to help you learn to manage the symptoms of your mental illness and addiction. For most, this includes a combination of medications, group therapy, individual counseling, education, and holistic therapies like nutrition counseling, exercise, acupuncture, and art therapy. Dual diagnosis care typically takes place at an inpatient rehab facility.


Addiction is never truly cured. You must remain active and engaged in recovery for life. Having an aftercare plan is crucial. Beginning in treatment, you will identify techniques and coping skills to avoid relapse and stay active in recovery.

Dual diagnosis rehab centers allow you to get comprehensive, tailored treatment for your mental illness and substance use disorder. Completing treatment and staying active in recovery afterward offers the best chance at lifelong addiction recovery.

Choosing a Dual Diagnosis Rehab

When searching for a dual diagnosis treatment facility, it is essential to look for a center that is qualified to treat substance use disorders and mental illness concurrently. Some facilities offer one type of treatment program or the other, but you must receive treatment for both conditions simultaneously to be successful.

Generally, some signs of a high-quality, effective dual diagnosis rehab facility include:

  • Staff are licensed and trained to provide dual diagnosis treatment
  • Strict admission criteria
  • The majority of the time in treatment is spent on evidence-based therapies
  • Reliable schedule
  • Programs can adapt to meet your needs
  • Access to multiple levels of care
  • Round-the-clock access to medical and psychiatric professionals
  • Serene, supportive environment
  • Financial assistance or payment plans

If possible, take a tour of the facility and ask any questions you might have before beginning rehab. It is essential that you feel confident in your choice so that you can get the most out of your time in treatment.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you love require dual diagnosis addiction treatment, reach out to the specialists at Recovery Centers today. We will connect you to the programs and professionals you need to help you start your recovery journey today. Call now to find a recovery center near you.