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Dual Diagnosis

What is a Dual Diagnosis?

A Dual Diagnosis Disorder is when a person who struggles with addiction also has a mental health condition such as anxiety, depressive or bipolar disorders. It may seem hard to imagine, but this is a common phenomenon. In fact, there can be the presence of more than one addiction or more than one mental illness that exists concurrently in an individual. Colorado Dual Diagnosis treatment centers often require simultaneously treating both conditions.

Without a professional medical assessment from a licensed, behavioral health practitioner who can identify the dual diagnosis disorder, their root cause, and create the right dual diagnosis treatment program to provide physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health wellness.

Knowing the Difference Between Addiction and Mental Illness

To the layperson, it’s difficult and near impossible to distinguish from a person exhibiting symptoms of mental illness, drug abuse, alcohol addiction, or dual diagnosis – because the signs can be, all or in part, similar.

Signs of Mental Illness

  • A Family History of Mental Illness
  • Feelings of Hopelessness, Sadness, or Worthlessness
  • Hallucinations or Delusions
  • Compulsivity in Actions or Thoughts to Reduce Anxiety
  • Dramatic Shifts in Energy
  • Mood Swings that Create an Inability to Function Normally
  • Reckless Behavior, Excessive Outbursts of Anger, Violent Tendencies

After reading through the above list, you might wonder if you or the one you care about has a mental health disorder, and not a drug or alcohol addiction. We urge you to read below to understand the potential for confusion, and why seeking the advice and professional opinion of an addiction treatment professional who understands dual diagnosis treatment is critical.

Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis

Review the list of characteristics and behaviors that mimic mental illness, as well as substance addiction.

You may have a dual diagnosis because:

  • There were already indications of depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety
  • When you try to stop using drugs and alcohol, depression and anxiety just gets worse
  • You have social anxiety and don’t want to be around anyone, or
  • Social circles have drastically changed in a short amount of time
  • Feelings of extreme happiness or energy can quickly turn to darkness and depression
  • The use of drugs or alcohol help mask other symptoms
  • Stopping the use of addictive substances is impossible, causing depression
  • No matter what, concentrating on anything is difficult
  • Panic attacks continue to happen for no reason
  • Uncontrollable behavior, ruminating thoughts, and unreasonable responses to normal behavior from others
  • Mental health conditions are present in some family members

How is Dual Diagnosis Treated?

In the past, when a patient presented with symptoms of both a substance use disorder and a mental illness, providers would advise them to stop drinking or doing drugs before coming back and seeking further treatment. In other words, both conditions were looked at completely separately. But today, however, dual diagnosis is viewed as the co-occurring disorder that it is. 

When a patient has a mental illness and a substance use disorder occurring at the exact same time, treating just one of the issues at a time is not going to produce any positive effects. But, when both issues are addressed simultaneously, real progress can be made.

To treat a dual diagnosis, most providers will utilize integrated treatment. Integrated treatment encompasses the idea of treating all symptoms at the same time. To do that, the following can be done:

  • Coordinated care for a number of disorders
  • Mental health services and addiction treatment being provided at the same time
  • Bundled interventions

When a patient has an integrated treatment plan, all providers will work in unison for the benefit of the patient. This means that they will regularly speak with one another about the patient’s needs and develop continued care plans with one another for the patient. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment is Essential to Long-Term Recovery

When someone is experiencing this condition, dual diagnosis treatment is absolutely vital. Without the appropriate professional intervention, one’s dual diagnosis can quickly grow worse and spiral out of control. 

Dual diagnosis treatment is essential to long-term recovery for the following reasons:

  • It allows patients to identify and address underlying causes of both their conditions
  • Treatment provides patients with a specialized skill set designed to help them cope with their specific challenges
  • It shows patients how to live successfully with both a mental illness and a substance use disorder
  • It gives patients the chance to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually 

Receiving treatment for dual diagnosis might seem overwhelming, especially if you are the one experiencing it. But, getting help as soon as possible can help prevent you from several unwanted consequences. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers in Denver, Colorado

Continuum Recovery Center in Colorado focuses on treating both chemical dependencies and secondary mental health disorders. When both are exhibited in a client, we focus on the specific needs of each individual to develop a custom program, specifically tailored to that person. It begins with a detailed medical assessment. Once the underlying issue is addressed, we can help treat the specific chemical dependency issue.


If you would like to apply for Pre-Admissions into our Treatment Program, see our Pre-Admissions Section for Enrolling In Treatment. 

If you have any questions about our Comprehensive and Holistic Approach to Treatment, you can Contact Us to get the Information you Need!


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