Dual diagnosis, also known as a co-occurring disorder, is the condition of simultaneously suffering from a mental illness in conjunction with a substance abuse problem. This broad term describes individuals with intricate needs and a wide-ranging scope of problems. An individual might be suffering from the effects of both depression and alcoholism, or it could indicate severe mental illness such as schizophrenia accompanied by cocaine abuse, or someone who has a milder mental illness along with a challenging drug dependency, such as panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder and a dependency on opioids.

Diagnosing the underlying primary psychiatric illness in those with a co-occurring disorder is challenging as drug abuse unaccompanied often presents with psychiatric symptoms, making it necessary to differentiate between the two. Those with co-occurring disorders face complex challenges, and treatment must address both the underlying mental condition as well as the addiction if treatment for either is to be fruitful.

There are multiple approaches to treating co-occurring disorders. Partial treatment involves treating only the disorder that is considered primary. Sequential treatment involves treating the primary disorder first, and then treating the secondary disorder after the primary disorder has been stabilized. Parallel treatment involves the client receiving mental health services from one provider, and substance abuse services from another in tandem. Integrated treatment involves a unification of interventions into a single consistent treatment dispensed with a consistent philosophy. With this method, both disorders are considered primary. Integrated treatment can encourage a higher level of engagement in treatment, and the overall efficacy of the program. Ask us about programs that treat those with a dual-diagnosis.