What is a Dual Diagnosis?

What is a Dual Diagnosis?

Experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety or paranoia may feel natural through drug and alcohol exposure. Leaning on such substances may also feel normal through mental health struggles. Justifiably, both encounters are in fact common, yet can potentially be dangerous and long-spanning, known as a dual diagnosis.

A dual diagnosis is where co-occurring disorders are experienced alongside one another, found to aggravate, and intensify symptoms and responses. Difficult to break due to the entwined makeup of addiction and mental health disorders, a specialist approach of rehabilitation must be completed, aim for dual recovery.

As co-occurring disorders can be highly influential, it is vital to encounter dual diagnosis treatment, to reduce ongoing triggers and risks of relapse. Without treatment, symptoms can become reoccurring, disrupting life in many ways.

Although common, a dual diagnosis is a serious health concern, on physical and psychological levels, requiring greater awareness and support. Here are some accessible support and treatment found to alleviate, treat, and manage a dual diagnosis, available here at Rehab Clinics Group, a group of specialist treatment centres.

‘What is a dual diagnosis?’. Here’s some more information to understand the link between substance abuse and poor mental health.


What is a dual diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis is displayed through substance use problems and mental health issues, commonly developing alongside one another. Whilst a single disorder will likely be the primary effect, the secondary condition can develop just as strong, known as co-occurring disorders.

Symptoms of poor mental health and addiction can be simultaneous, both aggravating and developing into full diagnoses. There are many different types of dual diagnosis, increasing its complexity even further.

Due to the high risk of dual diagnosis, with a focus on psychological instability and possible crises, treatment and management of co-occurring disorders is encouraged, to not only suppress the primary condition, but also the development of a secondary.

Reasonably, treating and recovering from a dual diagnosis will result in greater challenges over a single diagnosis. Yet, with the right support and treatment, rehabilitation can be worked through, to restore and recover.


Common mental health issues and addiction problems

Every individual who abuses drugs and alcohol will not encounter the risk of poor mental health. This is also the consensus for individuals who suffer from pre-existing mental health conditions, as there are many other popular coping strategies, beyond substance abuse. However, there are some commonalities across a dual diagnosis, showing the link between co-occurring disorders.

Extreme substance abuse is found to result in symptoms of anxiety, panic, obsession, depression, and acute stress, due to both internal and external effects of drugs and alcohol. However, greater connectivity is found through the struggles of common mental health issues, where drugs and alcohol are used as a way of coping.

  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Clinical depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder


As the above mental health disorders aggressively target the brain from an emotional and behavioural standpoint, drug and alcohol exposure is common, to aim for mental stability and positive reinforcements. Antidepressants, central nervous system depressants, and stimulants are commonly consumed to restore balance, escape and relax the mind. However, this is how a dual diagnosis will form, by relying on addictive substances to work through mental health symptoms and vulnerabilities.

While there are common forms of a dual diagnosis, further links will be present, also serious, also dangerous, and also beneficial of treatment. Treatment of a dual diagnosis will be a personal and tailored process, yet as a universal recommendation, it will be advocated through any degree of mental health struggles and substance abuse.

If you’re experiencing the signs of poor mental health, whilst relying on drugs and alcohol, this is a definite symptom of co-occurring disorders, urging you to reach out for more information on ‘what is a dual diagnosis?’.


The difficulty of dual diagnosis

A dual diagnosis can be very difficult to live with, treat and manage for a number of different reasons. Firstly, both mental health disorders and substance abuse go against each other, making it difficult to live through their link. Working through a singular disorder will be ineffective as the co-occurring element of a dual diagnosis will activate.

Secondly, a range of triggers and influences can build up a dual diagnosis, making it difficult to treat. Triggers are usually personal, yet a variety of social, environmental, physical, and mental triggers can influence the development phase.

Lastly, a dual diagnosis can develop naturally, due to behavioural choices and outlooks. For example, self-medicating through mental health issues can increase the risk of addiction. As everyday actions can ignite a dual diagnosis, management of both disorders can be challenging.

Yet, with the right professional support, treating and managing a dual diagnosis is possible, to live through post-rehab life with strong relapse prevention rates.


Treating a dual diagnosis through rehab

Rehab will be the most effective and safe place to rehabilitate from a dual diagnosis. Offering independent programmes of recovery for each disorder, a comprehensive approach can be worked through via rehab.

While dual diagnosis treatment will be continuous, running alongside one another to increase the force of change and recovery, treatment options will vary due to the nature of co-occurring symptoms. For example, substance abuse will benefit from detoxification, addiction treatment services, relapse prevention and therapy. Mental health conditions are diverse, requiring accurate treatment of talking therapies, exposure therapy and readjustment, to effectively understand and target emotional responses.

The efforts of dual diagnosis treatment will however combine together to treat both conditions, offering a clean slate to recover from.

Here at Rehab Clinics Group, we have a number of rehab clinics across the UK, specialising in dual diagnosis recovery. Quality and suitable treatment can be encountered here to reduce the long-term hold of a dual diagnosis.

Experience residential treatment, relapse prevention and aftercare through dual diagnosis rehabilitation, to be aware of their link and how to manage it moving forward.

For more information, reach out by asking ‘what is a dual diagnosis?’, considering your personal experiences.