Addiction treatment

What Treatments Are Available for Dual Diagnosis Patients?

According to research published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 50% of individuals suffering from addiction disease also suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. These are termed dual diagnosis conditions and they require professional treatment in a dual diagnosis treatment center. This is because it is not only important to identify and diagnose each condition but also to determine the most appropriate course of dual diagnosis treatment that deals with the both separately, while at the same time.

It is important to understand the similarities between dual diagnosis conditions and the varying treatments available to patients with concurrent mental illness and addiction. There are numerous variables in each case of dual diagnosis depending on which condition preceded the other and how they both interact, which can be most accurately assessed at a specialist dual diagnosis treatment center.

There are various theories regarding the correlation between mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction. One school of thought is that mental illness is a consequence of prolonged substance abuse. This can be said in the case of some drugs such as cocaine, which can create detrimental changes to the brain’s function, making it impossible for a user to naturally produce pleasure sensations.  

Self-Medicating Symptoms of Mental Illness Creates Addiction Issues

Another theory on the correlation between addiction and mental health is that people with mental illness may be introduced to addictive substances as they seek ways to relieve their distressing symptoms. Getting into the habit of responding to mental discomfort by abusing substances can quickly lead to dependence and ultimately full-blown addiction. People who self-medicate for the symptoms of mental disorders there are several important risks they face of developing addiction disease, such as:

  • Many medications prescribed for mental illnesses are set to doses appropriate for someone’s weight and height. After using prescribed meds for a given period of time, they may feel they need to take more to get the therapeutic effect which can sometimes lead to buying dangerous illegal drugs and ingest them in excessive amounts.
  • Even with medical training, it is virtually impossible to correctly self-diagnose mental health conditions, even if the symptoms someone presents are similar to another member of the family’s. Conditions that have not been diagnosed can’t be treated and it is likely that any type of self-medicating substance someone may resort to using for relief will complicate matters further.
  • Illegal or illicit drugs either mask the symptoms of mental illness or create them, and the way they interact with each other in the brain can lead to more dangerous implications for overall mental health.

What Are the Types of Dual Diagnosis Treatments?

Once concurrent mental illness and addiction have been diagnosed in a patient, there are several treatment options available to them. Much depends on the needs of each individual attending a program at a dual diagnosis treatment facility as to what treatments will be the most effective. The types of treatments used to treat dual diagnosis include the following:

  • Behavioral Modification – Research has shown that treatments used to treat singular mental illnesses are also effective for dual diagnosis patients. Behavioral therapy helps someone to develop new responses to triggers and stressors which are particularly useful for relapse prevention in recovery.
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy – This is a specific type of behavioral modification that has particular benefits for dual diagnosis patients. CBT is based on the way we perceive the world around us and how we make our decisions and choices. CBT addresses unhealthy behavior by encouraging patients to relearn how they perceive their lives so that they have a more positive and healthy perception of reality.
  • Alternative Therapies – mindfulness techniques such as yoga are beneficial in dual diagnosis treatment as they provide patients with skills that promote relaxation and a quieter state of mind. Learning how to rid the mind of its inner dialogue is an effective way of preventing relapse when someone has completed dual diagnosis treatment.

Dual diagnosis treatment programs offer patients with concurrent mental illness and addiction the chance to overcome both conditions at the same time. In many cases, people with addiction issues and mental illness have become isolated and withdrawn from society as they struggle to cope with distressing and sometimes life-threatening symptoms. Accepting there is a problem that can be helped considerably with the right kind of dual diagnosis treatment program is the first important step to a healthier future.

Addiction treatment

Click On These Links To Learn More About Relapse Prevention And Dual Diagnoses


Ranch Creek Recovery offers more than specialized addiction treatment; we offer a second chance at a normal life. Contact us at (951) 795-4326 to learn how we’ve changed the lives of others. You can also learn more about the importance of effective addiction treatment by browsing these addiction-related resources:

  • This article from The Huffington Post describes how self-medication can lead to substance abuse.
  • Explore the truth behind dual diagnosis by visiting this page from Mental Health America.
  • Visit if you’d like to learn more about addiction triggers.
  • How can you avoid relapse during your addiction recovery? This page from has the answer.
  • This page from MedlinePlus has reliable information about dual diagnosis disorders.

Understanding Dual Diagnosis and the Self-Medication Theory


Complex mental health problems are difficult to detect and impossible to treat without professional help. That’s why it’s important to become more familiar with common mental health problems. Learning the basics of mental illness and drug abuse will help you guide your loved ones to treatment. This overview of dual diagnosis and the self-medication theory is a great place to start.

Dual Diagnosis
A patient suffering from dual diagnosis displays both the symptoms of a drug problem and a mental health issue. Medline Plus reports that the most common examples of dual diagnosis involve substance abuse combined with depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Unfortunately, each of these two problems can make the other worse. According to National Mental Health Association, mental health issues can increase a patient’s risk of substance abuse by up to 15%. Dual diagnosis cases are a challenge for medical professionals because one problem is likely to cover up the other. However, a holistic approach to addiction treatment can help identify and treat both problems simultaneously.

Self-Medication Theory
The self-medication theory is one of the most prevalent hypotheses about addiction. It states that those who abuse substances or participate in addictive behaviors often have an underlying medical or psychological problem. Patients and professionals alike use the self-medication theory as a tool for better communication and understanding during the treatment process. The theory encourages patients to be honest with medical professionals and themselves about their addictions and triggers. This self-examination can be an important motivator for patients to overcome their addictions. The self-medication theory has some overlap with dual diagnosis—especially when a patient’s substance abuse begins as self-treatment for his mental health issue.

Contact Ranch Creek Recovery if you suspect that your loved one is using drugs to cope with his or her mental health issue. Our holistic approach to addiction treatment can get to the heart of the problem and help your loved one live a better life. We can be reached by phone at (951) 795-4326.