Addiction can affect anyone, from a person living in poverty to someone with millions of dollars in the bank. That’s what makes it so difficult to treat. Many factors determine whether someone is likely to develop an addiction, including genetics, peer pressure, a chaotic home environment and the presence of other mental illnesses.

No matter the underlying cause, it’s important for people with addictions to receive comprehensive treatment tailored to their unique medical, psychological and emotional needs. Sunlight Recovery offers this type of treatment in Boca Raton, Florida. One of our programs aims to address the needs of dual diagnosis patients who need extra support.

This guide explains the standard dual diagnosis meaning and provides an overview of dual diagnosis in mental health.

Dual Diagnosis Meaning

The term “dual diagnosis” is used to describe someone who has an addiction and at least one other mental health condition. Although drug and alcohol addictions are common, someone with a dual diagnosis may be addicted to gambling, shopping, pornography or some other type of behavior. Dual diagnosis also covers a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Addiction and mental health issues are closely linked. In people with mental health disorders, a desire to regain control and suppress troubling symptoms may lead to drinking or drug use. People with mental illnesses may also seek the “high” that comes from engaging in compulsive behavior. In this case, the mental illness develops first and the addiction develops later. Several conditions increase the risk of addiction, including the following:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Phobia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Some people start out with addictions and develop mental health disorders after years of drinking and drug use. This is because some drugs change the structure of the brain, altering its function and increasing the risk of addiction. A few substances, such as LSD, have even been linked to psychosis, a condition that causes an individual to lose touch with reality.

It doesn’t matter if the addiction or the mental health disorder developed first; having a dual diagnosis disorder makes the situation more complex. As a result, it’s important to seek treatment from qualified professionals.

How Common Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

Dual diagnoses are also known as co-occurring disorders. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that approximately 7.7 million Americans have a substance use disorder accompanied by at least one mental health diagnosis. This doesn’t include people who have behavioral addictions accompanied by depression, anxiety or some other mental health condition.

Unfortunately, many people don’t seek treatment for their co-occurring disorders. Of the 7.7 million Americans with dual diagnoses, only 48.5% sought treatment in 2017, leaving more than half without the professional support needed to recover. Nearly 35% of these individuals received mental health care, 3.9% received substance abuse treatment and only 9.1% received treatment for both the addiction and the underlying mental health diagnosis.

Many people avoid treatment because they don’t realize they have a problem. Others have never heard the term dual diagnosis, so they have no idea help is available for what they’re experiencing. Still others worry about the potential stigma of seeking treatment for addiction and mental health disorders, especially if they have high-pressure jobs or public-facing roles.

Even when people understand the dual diagnosis meaning and recognize that they need professional help, many are hesitant to schedule that first appointment. They may worry about the cost of treatment, have trouble finding transportation or struggle to fit treatment around their work or school schedules.

The Importance of Treating Dual Diagnosis Patients

Treating dual diagnoses is a little more complicated than treating substance use disorders and mental health conditions separately. This is because substance use disorders and mental health disorders are closely linked. Treating one without treating the other isn’t as effective as addressing both conditions. For people with co-occurring disorders, integrated mental health treatment is often the best option.

Integrated treatment is delivered by professionals with extensive experience treating both substance use disorders and mental health conditions. These professionals understand how one condition can affect the other, so their treatment plans are tailored to each individual’s needs. Integrated treatment also eliminates some of the confusion that can arise when someone seeks help from professionals with different treatment approaches.

One of the main benefits of integrated treatment is that people with co-occurring disorders can get all the services they need in one place. Integrated treatment also progresses through a series of stages, with different services available based on which stage an individual is in.

Treatment for Dual Diagnoses

Sunlight Recovery uses this integrated approach to treatment, ensuring every patient receives highly personalized care based on their physical and psychological needs. Our dual diagnosis program is delivered in a safe, comfortable environment staffed by professionals who understand the complex interplay between substance use and mental health issues.

What Is a Dual Diagnosis Program?

A dual diagnosis program is a treatment program designed specifically to meet the needs of people with co-occurring disorders. Staff members have experience with both substance use disorders and mental health conditions, so they have the expertise needed to conduct a thorough evaluation and develop an appropriate treatment plan for each person. Sunlight Recovery is a certified treatment facility, giving patients access to a wide range of mental health treatments.

Initial Evaluation

The first step is the initial evaluation, which allows our experienced staff members to determine which services would benefit a new patient the most. We have psychologists and psychiatrists available to identify signs of mental illness and determine how a mental health condition is likely to affect addiction treatment outcomes. Extra support is available for individuals who need help withdrawing safely from alcohol and drugs.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

After the initial evaluation, patients have access to a wide range of treatment options, including medications, group counseling, psychoanalytic therapy and individual counseling. At Sunlight Recovery, we understand there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment that works for every individual. That’s why we’re dedicated to developing customized treatment plans for each person who comes to our dual diagnosis treatment center.

Personalized care starts with a full medical evaluation, which gives our treatment professionals the opportunity to learn more about each individual’s medical and mental health history. We also ask questions related to an individual’s family history to determine if their substance use disorder or mental illness may have a genetic component.

Some individuals are struggling more with their substance use disorders than with their co-occurring mental health disorders. For these people, we offer counseling and intensive therapy during the detox process. Other individuals need to address their mental health before they can focus on addiction recovery. We base every treatment plan on the patient’s unique needs, offering the best chance for a significant improvement in symptoms.

Recovery From Dual Diagnoses

If you’re struggling with substance use disorder and another mental health condition, help is available. At Sunlight Recovery, we offer personalized care to help people with co-occurring disorders improve their health and overall well-being. For immediate assistance regarding dual diagnosis treatment, contact us at (833) 984-0656.