Dual Diagnosis

Substance Abuse, Drug & Alcohol Addictions and Psychiatric Illness

Dual diagnosis is a term used to describe co-occurring conditions of a person suffering from a psychiatric illness (depression, anxiety, mania, bipolar, or psychotic disorder) and a substance abuse problem.  Addiction often induces psychiatric symptoms, thus making it necessary to differentiate between substance induced and pre-existing issues.  Although studies suggest that one-third to one-half of all addicts also suffer from a co-occurring psychiatric condition, most addiction treatment centers are simply not equipped to treat clients with a dual diagnosis.

Enterhealth’s full-time, board certified addiction psychiatrists and approach to recovery enables us to uniquely address the diagnostic and treatment challenges of dual diagnosis.

An Integrated Approach to Treatment of Psychiatric Disorder and Addiction 

The Enterhealth Addiction Treatment Program treats the two disorders with a very personal, integrated approach, where both the substance abuse or addiction problem and the psychiatric disorder are treated simultaneously.  Enterhealth believes that treatment of co-occurring disorders is a collaborative process between the treatment team and the client and often the client’s family. Recovery is a lifelong process, not a short-term fix and should include education about the disease and development of coping skills to handle life’s challenges. 

Pharmacotherapy - Psychiatric Illness and Addiction Medicines 

A prolonged period of abstinence (30 days or more) from the abused substance is typically recommended before treating the psychiatric illness of co-occurring disorders with any medication.  In some cases, medication can be crucial to reduce depression, anxiety, paranoia, and craving. Any anti-addiction medication treatment plan should be prescribed by a physician specifically trained in treating dual diagnosis. Certain anti-depression and anti-anxiety medicines, including SSRIs or SNRIs, may be appropriate to relieve the symptoms of depression or anxiety.  In addition, some anti-addiction medicines have proven effective, including opioid replacement therapies or naltrexone (to reduce craving).  Drug and alcohol addictions are common in people with mental health problems.  See the Resource Library on this site for more detailed information on anti-addiction medicines.

According to reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

  • Roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse and addiction
  • Thirty-seven percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness
  • Of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29 percent abuse either alcohol or drugs. Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Helping a Loved One with Dual Diagnosis

Helping a loved one with a dual diagnosis can be a roller coaster.  Resistance to treatment is common and the road to recovery is long.  It’s common to feel alone, defeated, scared, overwhelmed and confused.

The best way to help someone is to accept what you can and cannot do and set limits.  You cannot force someone to remain sober, nor can you make someone take their medication or keep appointments.  What you can do is make positive choices for yourself, encourage your loved one to get help and offer your support while making sure you don’t lose yourself in the process.

  • Seek support. Dealing with a loved one's drug or alcohol addiction and psychiatric illness can be painful and isolating.  Make sure you're getting the emotional support you need to cope.  Talk to someone you trust about what you're going through.  It may also help to see your own therapist, clergy, or join an addiction recovery support group.
  • Set boundaries. Be realistic about the amount of care you're able to provide without feeling overwhelmed and resentful.  Set limits on disruptive behaviors and stick to them.  Letting the substance abuse, addiction or psychiatric illness take over your life isn't healthy for you or your loved one.
  • Educate yourself. Learn all you can about your loved one’s problem, as well as alcohol or drug treatment and addiction recovery. The more you understand what your loved one is going through, the better able you’ll be to support treatment and addiction recovery.
  • Be patient. Recovering from addiction and mental health problems doesn’t happen overnight, or even weeks.  Addiction recovery is an ongoing process that can take months or years.  Ongoing support for both you and your loved one is crucial as you work toward recovery from addiction. 

Enterhealth’s evidence-based alcohol addiction treatment and drug addiction treatment offers personalized residential and outpatient programs in Dallas Texas, uniquely suited to where you are in your recovery journey.  

Call Enterhealth 24/7 at 800.388.4601 or email us for more information.  Don’t just get clean/sober.  Get well.