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What is the Process of Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Learn more about what a dual diagnosis is and possible treatment options that may be available to you.


Until the 21st century, individuals with mental health disorders and drug addiction were treated separately for each condition. Generally, these patients were encouraged to get sober before being treated for mental health conditions. As a result, most people didn’t get the help they required. Now, researchers have found that substance abuse often springs from mental health problems, and to ensure a successful treatment, both issues need to be addressed concurrently.
Treating both conditions can be slightly challenging, especially during the first steps towards sobriety. For instance, someone who struggles with depression might relapse to alcohol abuse as a way to cope with depression but end up addicted to the drug’s powerful effects. Fortunately, with the help of a dual diagnosis treatment, not only can you treat both conditions, but it increases the likelihood of recovering sooner.
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What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is a condition where a person is diagnosed with substance abuse and mental health disorders.1
Having a dual diagnosis is usually not a coincidence. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, most people diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder are prone to experiencing mental illness at some point during their lifetime. It’s also possible to be addicted to multiple substances and have numerous mental health conditions, so specialized treatment can be recommended if necessary.2

Dual Diagnosis Vs Co-Occurring Disorders

Dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders are very similar, and most people often can’t tell the difference. Co-occurring disorders mean having various diseases present along with substance abuse, while having a dual diagnosis means having two or more active conditions simultaneously. Some dual diagnosis examples include:

Common Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders are conditions that affect how a person thinks and feels. There are numerous conditions that are diagnosed as mental health disorders, and the most common types are explored below.3


Depression is more than just fluctuating moods and brief emotional responses to daily life challenges. Throughout a depressive episode, the person tends to experience consistent feelings of low self-worth, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts that last for an extended period of time.

Anxiety Disorder

A person is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder if their anxiety interferes with normal functioning. People with this condition typically respond to situations with fear and dread, accompanied by physical signs of panic, such as increased heartbeat.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a disorder that affects a person’s behavior, making them often restless, distracted, and impulsive.4

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness characterized by episodes of drastic mood swings that range from manic highs to depressive lows. It mainly affects energy levels and a person’s ability to think.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Persons with borderline personality disorders often experience erratic mood swings. Their feelings can change instantly from extreme happiness to dislike, leading to unstable relationships and low self-worth

Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is a behavioral condition characterized by intense and ceaseless disturbance in eating behaviors accompanied by disturbing thoughts and emotions.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is when the person has constant, unwanted thoughts or obsessions that drive them to do something compulsive. Most people with this condition know that their thoughts and actions are not reasonable, but they can’t stop themselve

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental disorder triggered after a traumatic experience, such as war or abuse. The condition can usually last for months and even years.


This is a disorder that impairs a person’s perception and changes their behavior. It’s primarily characterized by hallucinations, intense and disturbing behaviors, or intense agitation and disorganized thinking.

Common Substance Use Disorders

Drugs and substances that alter a person’s mood or perceptions are the most commonly abused. Patients are diagnosed with a particular type of substance use disorder depending on the initial substance they tend to misuse, like tobacco or marijuana. However, most people diagnosed with substance use disorders are likely to have used more than one substance.Substance abuse differs from addiction, but it should not be taken lightly. Most people with substance abuse disorders are able to quit quickly. Addiction, on the other hand, is a disease that makes it hard to stop even when it harms your health. Either way, the drugs alter how your body and mind work, so avoiding them is the best approach. The risks associated with substance use disorders include physical damage, impaired driving, overdose, and even death.

Commonly Misused Substances

Some of the most commonly abused substances include:5
Furthermore, when a person stops using substances, they may have panic attacks that are more intense than previously. This is the result of withdrawal symptoms, which commonly lead to treatment discontinuation.
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Opioids
  • Stimulants
  • Marijuana
  • Hallucinogens
  • Prescription drugs

Dual Diagnosis Causes and Warning Signs

Both mental health disorders and substance use conditions have common causes like stress, environmental conditions, and trauma. Genetics is also a significant factor since mental health disorders and substance use disorders might run in the family. Although the warning signs might vary based on the type of drug and mental disorder, some common dual diagnosis symptoms include:
  • Disturbing or reckless behavior
  • Lack of concentration
  • Intense tension
  • Social withdrawal
  • Hallucinations
  • Intense feelings of low self-worth
  • Elevated mood swingsh
  • Using drugs to cope with any of the above mechanisms

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Almost every dual diagnosis patient requires a combination of treatments, which won’t be effective until it addresses both conditions. How much care and treatment you’ll need will depend on how intense your condition is. If your substance abuse problem is extreme, or you suffer from a severe mental illness, a dual diagnosis residential treatment program might be the best option for recovery. For recovering addicts who are also diagnosed with co-occurring depressive disorder, we recommend intensive outpatient treatment to recover and live a sober life fully.
Treating patients with a dual diagnosis can be challenging, requiring a professional in both addiction and mental health. At Ripple Ranch Recovery, we proudly offer our patients the chance and treatments to fully recover from addiction as we uncover any mental health disorder.

Opportunities for Healing at Ripple Ranch Recovery

The treatments at Ripple Ranch Recovery may vary since its personalized for each individual, but it’s mostly a combination of the following therapies:
  • Dual diagnosis individual therapy
  • Dual diagnosis group therapy
  • Life-skills training
Aside from these evidence-based treatments, we have alternative methods that offer patients a more holistic form of treatment, like yoga and tai chi, to address physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Treatment for Dual-Diagnosis at Ripple Ranch Recovery

If you are struggling with dual diagnosis, it can be difficult to find a reputable dual diagnosis treatment center that provides unique treatments for both addiction and mental health services. Still, it would be best if you strived to find a dual diagnosis rehab that specializes in treatments for dual diagnosis patients to support you in your wellness journey.

At Ripple Ranch Recovery, we have all the resources and dual diagnosis treatment programs to support you throughout the recovery. Contact us today to learn more about our personalized treatments, including dual diagnosis services.