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Achieving the best possible outcomes for addiction problems


A dual diagnosis is a client who has mental health difficulties plus an alcohol or drug or other addiction problems. This happens frequently. Trying to manage just one of these complex conditions can be extremely stressful.

Also the multiple symptoms that overlap in these cases make it hard to diagnose what’s exactly going one, so finding a successful treatment is equally challenging. However to achieve the best possible outcome, all the conditions must be treated at the same time so that the possibility of relapse is lessened.


The History of Dual Diagnosis


Dual Diagnosis – having a mental health issue concurrently with an addiction problem – as a condition has been around for hundreds of years, but it only started to be recognised in the 1960s. At first, this condition was treated by two separate clinicians but that treatment method was discovered to be ineffective and in the 1980s, an integrative approach started being used. The Bay very much believes in an integrative approach.


Is it the emotional issues or the addiction problem, which happens first?


Often the mental health problem occurs first. In an attempt to feel better, the person involved self-medicates with alcohol or drugs or food or sex or gambling, which can lead to chemical or other dependency. In other cases, the alcohol, drug, food, sex dependency is the primary condition, which over time can lead to depression, anxiety and more severe emotional and mental health problems.

Regardless of the cause, the first step in the case of substance abuse to living a healthier life is to cleanse your system of the substances. Ideally, the detox takes place under medical supervision and the process can last from a few days to more than a week, depending on what substances the person used and for what length of time.

Statistics on dual diagnosis indicate…

  • 53% of those who misuse drugs and 37% of those who misuse alcohol have at least one serious mental illness
  • Roughly 50% of those with severe mental health issues are affected by substance misuse
  • 29% of all people diagnosed as mentally ill misuse either alcohol or drugs
  • • 16% of all prisoners are estimated to have severe mental and substance misuse conditions

Deborah Cutter, Psy.D., Steve Elam, Jaelline Jaffe, Ph.D., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D


Six Things You Should Know About Dual Diagnosis


  1. Dual Diagnosis appears in many combinations. Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar alongside addiction which could be alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, food etc can mean that a patient has dual diagnosis. There are many possibilities.
  2. Dual Diagnosis is common. Studies indicate that as many as half of those with a drug or alcohol addiction also have some form of mental disorder.
  3. Dual Diagnosis is complex to treat because the clinician has to trace back the symptoms to the underlying problem. So for example, if a dual diagnosis patient is suffering from anxiety, the clinician doesn’t at first know whether the alcoholism stems from the anxiety or the other way round. But the key is to find the root cause.
  4. Dual Diagnosis is best treated with a simultaneous, integrated approach.
  5. Dual Diagnosis patients are high risk because of the complexity of their condition.
  6. Those with mental health disorders are more susceptible to addiction. Those people who suffer from bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and other conditions are likely to see their casual drug use or drinking turn into an addiction.

Learn more about Dual Diagnosis Treatment at The Bay
Learn more about Drug and Alcohol Rehab at The Bay