Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

What a heart wrenching thing to go through – watching a loved one suffer with substance abuse and feeling helpless to do anything about it. Millions of people suffer from substance addiction, and many of them are in treatment for it. But an estimated 7 million adults in the U.S. have co-occurring disorders, meaning they not only have a problem with substance abuse, but they also suffer from some form of mental illness. This dual diagnosis has not been very well understood in the past, and in fact, the government estimates that 90% of these patients today still do not get the treatment they need to care for both disorders.

Substance Abuse along with Mental Illness

People with drug or alcohol dependency may also have a variety of psychiatric problems, including bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. It is hard to say if the substance abuse or the mental illness is the primary disorder, because each patient is different. For some people, emotional and mental instability can lead to self medication, where they use drugs or alcohol to calm their nerves and numb their psychological pain. It is thought that 50% of people with psychiatric disorders also use drugs or alcohol. In these cases, we would say the person had a tendency toward mental illness, and the substance abuse aggravated it further. For other people, prolonged dependency on drugs or alcohol can lead to psychiatric disorders, such as depression or hallucinations. For these people, the substance abuse was the primary disorder, and the condition was made worse by the developing psychiatric disorder.

The Problem with Treating Dual Disorders

It is widely thought that people with dual diagnosis do not receive the kind of treatment they need for their multiple disorders. If the disorders go undiagnosed, a person might just be treated for drug abuse, and the mental illness won’t even be addressed. This kind of patient needs therapy and rehabilitation, and often medication, to keep the mental disorder under control. If not properly treated, these people will spend a lot of time bouncing back and forth between facilities, or between a facility and the streets, relapsing, and falling further into mental illness as time goes on. Some of these patients will become suicidal, many will be impoverished and homeless, and most will spend years wondering why they aren’t able to get over their addiction.

Hope for Patients with Co-Occurring Disorders

There is hope for those with dual diagnosis. More and more providers are now able to recognize the diagnosis, and treatment facilities are working on protocols for treating dual diagnosis patients. There is still work to be done in this area, however. Continued collaboration between physicians that treat each disorder is important, and education about how the disorders affect each other will help everyone understand how best to treat these patients.


American Addiction Centers provides effective dual diagnosis treatment.

Treatment Solutions is proud to be an exclusive resource of American Addiction Centers, leader in drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation. American Addiction Centers specializes in dual diagnosis – helping men and women who suffer with alcohol, drug and other addictions that are co-occurring with behavioral health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, trauma and more. Patients begin to heal these root causes with the guidance and support of our outstanding staff.

Upon entering treatment at one of our premier nationwide facilities located, patients undergo clinical assessments to define where they are in the addiction process. Medical, psychological and substance abuse histories are also evaluated to develop an individualized program aimed towards long-term recovery.

Throughout treatment, patients participate in appropriate combinations of behavioral health group, family and individual therapy, and relapse prevention sessions. Using evidence-based modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and more, behavioral health counseling helps patients understand how their addition manifested – and how to manifest healthier and happier lives.

Individuals suffering from both mental illness and substance abuse must be given the room to recover at their own pace, though a more modest speed of recovery should not be a deterrent to entering treatment. Failing to treat a dual disorder condition can result in worsening conditions. We treat individuals with dual disorders with proper care that goes beyond standard counseling or medication, thereby increasing the chances for lifelong recovery.

No matter your insurance, be it Cigna, Aetna, Humana, Blue Cross / Blue Shield (BCBS), Assurant, Unicare, United Health Care, Anthem, Carefirst, Asuris Northwest Health, Golden Rule, Celtic Insurance, Fortis, Health Net, Kaiser, Vista, Shelter, Wellpoint, Tri Care, Accordia or even Medicare, and state insurance — we can help you find a dual diagnosis treatment program. We also offer many affordable self-pay options, as well as luxury dual diagnosis treatment.