DUAL-DIAGNOSIS: Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Bipolar Disorders and others…

Helping those with dual-diagnosis mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder and more…


Research has shown that when a substance abuse treatment facility only treats the drug and alcohol problem without screening for and treating co-occurring/dual-diagnosis mental health disorders, outcomes for long-term recovery drop significantly.  It is critical to address dual diagnosis clients and treat them individually by educating them not only about their addiction, but also about their mental health diagnosis.

Individuals with mental health disorders are more likely than people without them to experience an alcohol or substance use disorder.  Co-occurring disorders can be difficult to diagnose due to the complexity of symptoms, as both may vary in severity.  Additionally, many newly sober people present with signs of mental health issues which go away as they stay sober.  Often times, people receive treatment for one disorder while the other one remains untreated.  This may occur because both mental and substance abuse disorders can have biological, psychological, and social components.  Other reasons may be inadequate provider training or screening, an overlap of symptoms, or that other health issues need to be addressed first. 

The consequences of undiagnosed, untreated, or underrated co-occurring disorders can lead to a higher likelihood of experiencing homelessness, incarceration, medical illnesses, suicide and even early death.

People with co-occurring disorders are best served through integrated treatment.  Practitioners can address mental and substance use disorders simultaneously, often lowering costs and creating better outcomes.  Increasing awareness and building capacity in service systems and treatment centers are important in helping identify and treat dual diagnosis disorders. Early detection and treatment can improve treatment outcomes and the quality of life for those who need these services.

Common co-occurring mental health disorders include: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, unresolved trauma and others.  There are many simple screening tools in existence for addiction & mental health treatment providers to implement and determine if a co-occurring disorder exists.  Competencies that define roles and create a common framework for working with dual diagnosis clients can be incorporated into existing job descriptions, training plans, supervision meetings, personal evaluation, and credentialing and licensure.

The mission of Illuminate Recovery is “to provide an improvement in the overall quality of life and wellness for those struggling with addiction and substance-related mental health difficulties through integrative evidence based therapies and treatment approaches.”

When seeking treatment for drug and alcohol dependency alone with dual diagnosis mental health issues, it is important to call and ask questions about the services provided, especially regarding how depression, anxiety, PTSD, trauma and bipolar disorder are treated and if individualized care is offered.


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