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What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment and Is It Effective?

  • January 26, 2018

What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Dual diagnosis treatment is an integrated continuum of care that treats a substance addiction and mental disorder when they occur together. Scientist in search of answers to addiction and the staggering relapse rate following treatment identified a strong connection between mental illness and substance abuse.

This led to the development of the dual diagnosis treatment model and a significant breakthrough for more sustainable sobriety.

Based on the most recent data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) at least 7.9 million people in the United States were experiencing both a mental disorder and substance use disorder simultaneously in 2014. Information from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported that many people with a drug problem also meet the dual diagnosis criteria.

Their data indicates that…

  • 50% of people with a severe mental illness also engage in some form of substance abuse.
  • 30% of individuals with an alcohol use disorder have at least one type of mental disorder.
  • 29% of all individuals diagnosed with a mental illness were also drug or alcohol abusers.
  • The high-risk demographic for dual diagnosis were men, primarily war veterans and people with generalized medical conditions.

Because drug and alcohol addictions can mimic mental illness it can make it difficult to determine whether a pre-existing psychiatric disorder motivated drug use or substance abuse induced psychiatric symptoms. Dual diagnosis can also be view as a broad concept that may include concurrent disorders of prescription drug abuse and depression, alcoholism and bipolar disorder, synthetic drugs and psychosis, alcohol abuse and a mood or panic disorder, to name a few.  As a specialized care model, administrators of dual diagnosis treatment are also required to have a specified set of knowledge and expertise.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Process

The dual diagnosis treatment process typically begins with a careful physical and psychological evaluation.  The results of this assessment are designed to identify the specific type of mental disorder and drugs being abused as well as the impact chronic drug use has had on important functions in the body.  The variables of the recovery program are then tailored to address the patient’s specific needs within the parameters of the dual diagnosis treatment model. The medical team must also adhere to the stipulation from the NAMI for dual diagnosis treatment to commence with attention to the substance abuse disorder.

Other addiction and mental health care may include various therapeutic and pharmacological interventions.  When administered, medication help to alleviate severe withdrawal symptoms as well as stabilize any exacerbated mental disorders that could threaten life after chronic drug use has been halted.

Undiagnosed dual diagnosis can be the greatest challenge facing people with addiction.  As long as this condition goes untreated, those in recovery usually continue to experience dangerous recurring relapses.  For this reason, it is important to seek treatment from a facility with the ability to provide dual diagnosis treatment.

Studies show the introduction of dual diagnosis treatment has made significant inroads in the recovery process. Positive outcomes for people who complete dual diagnosis treatment programs result in reduced homelessness, unemployment, criminal activity and recidivism rates.


Drug Treatment West Palm Beach


We at Ebb Tide Treatment Centers believe alcoholics and addicts can and do recover. Recovering from active addiction does not have to be a long, painful process. With the help of Ebb Tide’s caring and experienced staff, you and your loved ones will learn, and take proven steps necessary to achieve success by maintaining lasting sobriety. The goal of Ebb Tide Treatment Centers is to restore lives and families. With our help, you can regain control of your life from addiction and start living happily again. Your new life is just a phone call away. Call us today at 561-508-8330 or visit us at.


Ebb Tide Treatment Center

400 Executive Center

Dr. Suite 209

West Palm Beach,

FL 33401



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