What Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Many people diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD) also suffer from a co-occurring mental or behavioral condition. This is known as a dual diagnosis. Individuals with a dual diagnosis require an integrated treatment plan that addresses both disorders as interconnected issues. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 45% of people with addiction have a co-occurring mental health disorder.

Dual diagnosis refers to an individual suffering from a “comorbid” disorder, such as depression and alcoholism, anxiety and drug addiction, or bipolar disorder and opiate abuse (for example). Dual diagnosis is quite challenging to overcome, so treatment programs like Virtue Recovery Center specialize in treating both substance abuse and mental health. Treating either condition without the other inevitably results in relapse.

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Patience and Dedication

Since dual diagnosis is actually two conditions, one might assume that you could treat them separately with success, but this is not the case. A good dual diagnosis rehabilitation program will professionally access the patient’s condition and treat each patient with an evidence-based, integrated treatment program incorporating both mental health treatment methodologies as well as substance abuse counseling. Patients who have anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, or bipolar disorder are easier to treat than patients with more complex mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or personality disorders, however Virtue Recovery Center is fully capable of providing people diagnosed with any and all of the above conditions with all the tools necessary for a successful recovery. Full recovery takes patience and dedication, but Virtue Recovery Center is here to help.

Detox Process in Dual Diagnosis

A terrifying part of rehab for any patient is the detox process. An individual suffering from any form of drug or alcohol addiction who has ever attempted to quit has experienced some withdrawal symptoms, and they are nothing short of misery! Fortunately, the rehabilitation process’s detoxification period will help patients through this agonizing duration of detoxification safely. It is common for patients experiencing this to be a person using substances to combat their mental illness. Such a method is called “self-medication”; however, it does anything but medicates the mental condition. Substance abuse actually appears to temporarily “soothe” mental disorders while magnifying mental conditions, thus creating a false dependency. However, there have been many cases in which a completely healthy person has become addicted to drugs or alcohol and has developed serious mental illnesses as a result. Regardless of the order in which the duality has come about, rehabilitation will help assess the condition and figure out a way to treat and prevent it from resurfacing again.

Although patients suffering from dual diagnosis have a very complex condition that is said to be treated all in one, mental disorders can usually be treated with the proper medication, separate from the detoxification process. The very first step to achieving complete wellness is to tackle the substance abuse issue first. This means that the detoxification procedure is the first and most important step to being completely cured. The detoxification period can vary from person to person since everyone’s body is different. The time it takes can also be measured depending on what substance they are addicted to. Once the detoxification process has been completed, the next step to recovery is getting the patient into therapy. This therapy involves getting the patient to actively participate in counseling sessions that may involve other patients or require them to undergo these counseling sessions alone. Such counseling sessions will help each patient become psychologically aware of their condition, encourage them on how they are progressing, and be educated with the right information to keep them on the right path to being cured of the illness for good.

Realizing Your Condition

Realizing that dual diagnosis is a condition that must be treated all at once but involves detoxification before mental illness treatment, some would assume that it would be perfectly acceptable to treat a dual diagnosis patient at two separate facilities. However, these patients have shown a higher success rate for recovering when they opt for a rehabilitation program that involves treating both the substance abuse issue and the mental issue in one program instead of going to a substance abuse program and then getting treated for mental illness.

You Have to Choose

Although the rehabilitation process can be effective and promising, much of the success and continued success can be attributed to how much the patient wants to be better. Much of the longevity of recovery from dual diagnosis can also require a lot of lifestyle changes, which require a lot of discipline. Such lifestyle changes can include hobbies that involve people and places, bringing back about dual diagnosis symptoms. The rehabilitation program chosen should also preferably involve other after-care procedures to help a person who has suffered from this serious condition to function normally in society after gaining wellness. Such help can include job and housing assistance, family counseling, help support dual diagnosis recovery, and even relationship management.


Each of the after-care options is beneficial to all patients recovering from dual diagnosis, even if they happen to receive prescription medication for their mental illness such as bipolar disorder, codependency, and low self-esteem. If a former dual diagnosis sufferer takes prescription medication to treat their mental disorder, it is advised that they be monitored or receive special “follow-up” visits with a professional to make sure that they do not return to the pattern of substance abuse. Should a person recovering decide not to take prescription medicine to treat their mental condition, it is advised that they continue after the counseling provided by rehabilitation and find a routine counseling program where a cognitive therapy approach will be offered.