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Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Treatment of Dual Diagnosis

Substance use disorder (SUD), or addiction, is a complex mental health problem on its own, but especially
in cases of dual diagnosis or the presence of other mental health disorders. While dual diagnosis is
challenging, patients can receive effective treatment that improves their quality of life. Below, you can
learn more about dual diagnosis and treatment options.

What is dual diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis, or comorbidity, is a term that refers to cases when a person has both SUD and mental
health disorder. It was first identified in the 1980s among people who had a mental illness and addiction to drugs or other substances. The term dual diagnosis could also refer to persons who have co-occurring
SUDs (more than one type of addiction) and one or more mental health disorders.

Although the name would suggest otherwise, dual diagnosis is not itself a diagnosis, but a combination of different diagnoses.

What are the most common co-occurring disorders with SUD?

The most common disorders that co-occur with
substance use disorder include:

What is the prevalence of dual diagnosis?

Numbers show that 45% of Americans suffer from dual diagnoses. According to the National Institute on
Drug Abuse, of 20.3 million adults with SUD, 37.9% also had a co-occurring mental health disorder.
At the same time, among 42.1 million adults with mental illness, around 18.2% also have SUD.

Unfortunately, 52.5% of people with dual diagnoses don’t receive treatment for their diagnoses. About
34.5% receive treatment for a mental health condition, whereas 3.9% get help for SUD. Only 09.1% of
people with dual diagnoses receive treatment for both SUD and mental health disorders.

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While a person can have both SUD and a mental health disorder, it doesn’t necessarily
mean one problem causes the other. In some people, it can be difficult to determine which
disorder came first.

Although it’s not always clear why dual diagnosis happens, several factors could play a
role. For example, mental health disorders and SUDs have common risk factors such as
stress, genetics or family history, and history of trauma.

Yet another reason a person can have a dual diagnosis is that these disorders are risk
factors for one another. More precisely, having a mental health disorder can make you
more likely to develop drug or alcohol addiction and vice versa.

People with mental illness often start using alcohol and drugs to feel better. This is called
self-medication, and it can be very dangerous. Addictive substances worsen symptoms of
a mental health disorder, negatively affect the brain’s reward system, and pave the way to
dependenceand addiction.

While a person can have both SUD and a mental health disorder, it doesn’t necessarily
mean one problem causes the other. In some people, it can be difficult to determine which
disorder came first.


Although it’s not always clear why dual diagnosis happens, several factors could play a
role. For example, mental health disorders and SUDs have common risk factors such as
stress, genetics or family history, and history of trauma.

Yet another reason a person can have a dual diagnosis is that these disorders are risk
factors for one another. More precisely, having a mental health disorder can make you
more likely to develop drug or alcohol addiction and vice versa.


People with mental illness often start using alcohol and drugs to feel better. This is called
self-medication, and it can be very dangerous. Addictive substances worsen symptoms of
a mental health disorder, negatively affect the brain’s reward system, and pave the way to
dependenceand addiction.

While a person can have both SUD and a mental health disorder, it doesn’t necessarily
mean one problem causes the other. In some people, it can be difficult to determine which
disorder came first.


Although it’s not always clear why dual diagnosis happens, several factors could play a
role. For example, mental health disorders and SUDs have common risk factors such as
stress, genetics or family history, and history of trauma.

Yet another reason a person can have a dual diagnosis is that these disorders are risk
factors for one another. More precisely, having a mental health disorder can make you
more likely to develop drug or alcohol addiction and vice versa.


People with mental illness often start using alcohol and drugs to feel better. This is called
self-medication, and it can be very dangerous. Addictive substances worsen symptoms of
a mental health disorder, negatively affect the brain’s reward system, and pave the way to
dependenceand addiction.

While a person can have both SUD and a mental health disorder, it doesn’t necessarily
mean one problem causes the other. In some people, it can be difficult to determine which
disorder came first.


Although it’s not always clear why dual diagnosis happens, several factors could play a
role. For example, mental health disorders and SUDs have common risk factors such as
stress, genetics or family history, and history of trauma.

Yet another reason a person can have a dual diagnosis is that these disorders are risk
factors for one another. More precisely, having a mental health disorder can make you
more likely to develop drug or alcohol addiction and vice versa.


People with mental illness often start using alcohol and drugs to feel better. This is called
self-medication, and it can be very dangerous. Addictive substances worsen symptoms of
a mental health disorder, negatively affect the brain’s reward system, and pave the way to
dependenceand addiction.