What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment? - ARISE Treatment Center

When a person has co-occurring disorders, they struggle with both a mental health condition and a substance use disorder at the same time. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 8.5 million people suffer from co-occurring disorders.[1]

When a person struggles with a co-occurring disorder, it is vital that they receive treatment for both of their conditions simultaneously. Without treating both the mental illness and the addiction, individuals may experience a relapse as the symptoms of the untreated condition exacerbate the other. This is why dual diagnosis addiction treatment is so important for people with co-occurring conditions.

Dual diagnosis treatment programs in Vista, California use integrated treatment strategies that address both mental health and addiction recovery.

Signs that Indicate a Dual Diagnosis

A dual diagnosis can be difficult to recognize. This is because many symptoms of varying mental health conditions mirror those of addiction. However, there are a few telltale signs of co-occurring disorders to be aware of.

The signs and symptoms that indicate a dual diagnosis include:

  • Not feeling fully satisfied in life without drugs or alcohol
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol to overcome uncomfortable feelings and emotions (self-medication)
  • A history of trauma
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Angry, violent, or impulsive behavior
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Experiencing paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations
  • Feelings of despair, hopelessness, or worthlessness
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships due to behavior and mood swings

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “If one of the co-occurring disorders goes untreated, both usually get worse and additional complications often arise. The combination of disorders can result in poor response to traditional treatments and increases the risk for other serious medical problems.”[2]

How Does Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment Work?

Dual diagnosis treatment is designed to help patients recover from both their mental health conditions and their substance use disorder simultaneously. Thankfully, behavioral therapy has been found effective in the treatment of mental health and addiction.

During dual diagnosis rehab, patients will undergo a thorough assessment to get a clear picture of their treatment needs. This provides every patient with an individualized and integrated care program to help them build a solid foundation of mental health and addiction recovery.

Assessment and Evaluation

When an individual begins treatment, they will be assessed and evaluated to determine their specific treatment needs and goals for recovery.

These comprehensive evaluations take the following into account:

  • Physical health history
  • Mental health history
  • Substance abuse history
  • Family history of substance abuse, mental health, and physical health
  • Previous substance abuse or mental health treatment
  • Whether the individual has relapsed before
  • The individual’s strengths and limitations

By collecting this information, the staff members can create an individualized treatment plan designed to accurately and effectively treat the patient’s co-occurring disorders.

Integrated Care

Dual diagnosis addiction treatment programs combine mental health treatment methodologies with addiction treatment tactics to provide comprehensive care for a range of mental and behavioral health conditions.

Most of these programs follow The Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment (IDDT) model. The Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment (IDDT) model is an evidence-based practice that improves the quality of life for people with co-occurring severe mental illness and substance use disorders by combining substance abuse services with mental health services.[3]

The benefits of integrated care for co-occurring disorder treatment include:[3]

  • Increased continuity of care
  • Better quality-of-life
  • Increased access to stable housing
  • Increased likelihood of independent living
  • Decreased rates of substance abuse and mental health relapse
  • Lower rates of hospitalizations and arrests
  • Reduced service costs

Behavioral Therapy

During treatment for mental health and addiction, patients will participate in various forms of behavioral therapy. The type of behavioral therapy an individual will participate in will depend solely on their individual needs. Oftentimes, patients attend both individual and group therapy sessions.

Individual therapy helps patients address their specific needs in a safe and comfortable setting. These sessions are most helpful for addressing difficult traumas, getting to the root of one’s problem, and diagnosing mental health conditions.

On the other hand, group counseling sessions provide patients with a safe space to discuss their struggles with mental health and addiction with other people who are dealing with similar issues. They will engage in therapeutic group activities, learn new healthy coping mechanisms, and begin to understand that they are not alone.

Medication Management

Medication may be used to treat a patient’s therapy-resistant symptoms of mental health conditions. It is important to note that most medications used in dual diagnosis addiction treatment programs are non-narcotic to prevent the individual from experiencing dependency.

Common types of medications used to treat mental health conditions in a dual diagnosis rehab include:

  • Serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antipsychotics
  • Beta-blockers

Aftercare Planning

Before an individual completes treatment, they will work with their therapist to create an aftercare plan. Aftercare plans are a form of relapse prevention, as they include services and tasks that individuals can take advantage of to maintain long-term sobriety and recovery from mental illness.

Aspects of an aftercare plan for co-occurring disorder recovery include:

  • Continued therapy and group counseling
  • Continued medication management
  • Alumni meetings with the treatment program
  • Attendance of support groups like 12-step programs
  • A list of triggers and positive coping mechanisms to use when the individual’s substance use disorder or mental health condition is triggered
  • Sober supports to call when times get tough
  • A plan of action to take in case of a mental health crisis or addiction relapse

Get Connected With a Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment Program in Vista, California

If you or a loved one suffer from a mental health condition and comorbid addiction, it’s time to seek help. Dual diagnosis addiction treatment programs in Vista, California can provide you or your loved one with the help you need to live a happy and substance-free life.

Contact Arise Treatment Center today to get started.


  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2017-nsduh-annual-national-report
  2. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2003-2004/resolutionadopted/House/htm/2003-HAR-0125.htm
  3. https://case.edu/socialwork/centerforebp/practices/substance-abuse-mental-illness/integrated-dual-disorder-treatment


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