Dual Diagnosis Treatment - PAX Riverbend Drug & Alcohol Rehab

What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Up until the 1990s, patients who suffered from mental health conditions were treated separately than those who suffered only from drug or alcohol addiction. However, with the rise of dual diagnosis treatment, patients who suffer from co-occurring disorders now receive integrated treatment.

Mental illness and substance abuse often exist hand in hand. Unfortunately, co-occurring disorders can be difficult to diagnose, challenging to treat, and threatening to one’s sobriety. If mental health is left untreated during rehab, it’s likely that the individual will relapse down the road as a result. Instead, dual diagnosis treatment programs in Indiana provide intensive therapeutic and medical care for patients who suffer from mental illness and addiction.

Mental illness and addiction co-occur at staggering rates and produce life-threatening consequences. For example, 1 in every 8 emergency room visits involves both a mental health condition and a substance use disorder. Moreover, 9.2 million people in the U.S. are estimated to have a dual diagnosis.

What Qualifies as Co-Occurring Disorders?

Dual Diagnosis

Co-occurring disorders aren’t limited to any type of substance or particular mental illness. Instead, it refers to experiencing any two disorders at the same time.

Many people wonder, “what comes first? Mental illness or addiction?” However, there is no set answer to that question. Sometimes, people who suffer from a mental health condition self-medicate their symptoms and end up developing an addiction. Others battle with substance abuse for so long that they develop a mental health condition. Regardless of which came first, both conditions tend to worsen the symptoms of the other condition.

Furthermore, the symptoms of mental illness tend to mirror the symptoms of addiction – making co-occurring disorders challenging to diagnose and treat. Once diagnosed, individuals with co-occurring disorders are best cared for in a dual diagnosis treatment setting.

The Benefits of Integrated Treatment

Living with addiction and mental illness is difficult, if not life-threatening. People who suffer from these ailments typically make poor lifestyle choices and struggle to care for themselves while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If left untreated, it can be difficult to maintain sobriety and live a fulfilling life. As a result, it’s critical that both disorders are addressed in treatment and that individuals learn new lifestyle skills to help further their recovery.

Dual diagnosis treatment programs arm patients with healthy coping skills and lifestyle changes that help promote optimal wellness and lasting recovery. Some benefits of integrated treatment programs include:

  • Medication management and medical care
  • Helps patients improve their sleep patterns
  • Aids patients who are struggling with legal issues
  • Teaches patients how to improve their communication skills
  • Focuses on improving eating behaviors
  • Provides support for job or work-related problems
  • Helps address family and friend relationships
  • Connects patients with local community resources and support groups
  • Monitors patients for ongoing care
  • Helps patients build strong support networks in recovery

Integrated programs are highly personalized, so each patient will have an individualized treatment plan that meets his or her specific needs.

Signs & Symptoms That You Need Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Depending on which substances you are addicted to as well as which co-occurring disorder you suffer from, the signs and symptoms can vary greatly. Some symptoms that indicate you could benefit from dual diagnosis treatment include:

  • Sudden and extreme shifts in mood or behavior
  • Avoiding responsibilities or activities that you used to enjoy
  • Difficulty managing responsibilities or tasks
  • Neglectful personal hygiene and overall health
  • Poor judgment and cognitive abilities
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Impulsive or risky behaviors
  • Difficulty managing your finances
  • Problems at work, school, or home
  • Problems within relationships
  • Constant refusal to accept professional help

If you identify with any of these symptoms, you should speak to an addiction or mental health specialist to determine which treatment program is best for you.

What Happens During Dual Diagnosis Rehab?

Inpatient programs are usually recommended for people with a dual diagnosis. Many of these patients require intensive medical and therapeutic care which is provided at residential treatment centers. In general, the first step of dual diagnosis treatment is detox.

Detox is a difficult time for anyone, but people who suffer from mental illness may have more severe withdrawal symptoms than those who do not. While at a professional detox center, the staff provides 24/7 supervision and treatment. Detox consists of both therapy and medications to help lessen the impact of the withdrawal period. Once patients have completed detox, they move onto the next phase of treatment.

Inpatient rehab consists of behavioral therapy, community meetings, recreational activities, and more. While in therapy, patients learn more about their co-existing conditions while working closely with their primary therapist. Once they gain an understanding of their condition, they begin adopting new coping mechanisms that both support sobriety and improve mental health. In addition to therapy, dual diagnosis treatment programs encourage patients to interact with their peers and begin building a support network. After all, having support from friends and family is essential for people recovering from a co-occurring diagnosis.

Since these individuals require long-term care, many patients attend outpatient rehab after completing an inpatient program. Outpatient programs use similar techniques and offer similar benefits as residential ones, but they are far less intensive. As a result, outpatient treatment helps ease the transition from inpatient care to the real world, providing a full continuum of care.

Get Help Today

Although there is no cure for mental illness or substance use disorder, there are various behavioral therapies and lifestyle interventions that are effective in treating co-occurring disorders. The most important aspect of dual diagnosis treatment is that you have access to personalized care and long-term support. At PAX Riverbend, we are dedicated to providing patients with the individualized treatment and full continuum of care that is needed to help individuals overcome their struggles. If you or a loved one needs help, don’t wait any longer. Contact us today.

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.