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Posted: October 5, 2020
Updated: February 11, 2021

People with dual diagnosis have coexisting addiction and a mental disorder. Thus, the condition is also known as a co-occurring disorder. 9.2 million US adults had a co-occurring disorder in 2018, reports the National Survey on Drug Use and Health

About 50% of people with a mental disorder will develop an addiction at least once in their lifetimes. Likewise, about 50% of addicted people will have a mental illness, such as:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia

A person with dual diagnosis will need an integrative intervention that addresses both the issues. The best treatment combines medication, psychotherapy (talk therapy), support group, and inpatient rehabilitation. Sometimes, complementary therapies – yoga, massage, and acupuncture – may also be used. 

How Dual Diagnosis Treatment Works

As you might’ve deduced, treating dual diagnosis is way trickier than typical substance abuse. While treating the mental condition, some people may use substances that may develop new addiction symptoms. That’s why it’s extremely important to seek the help of a medical team that can provide properly-planned integrated care. 

Naturally, we can’t provide a definite treatment plan; the actual programs vary considerably according to the condition of the patient. Determining a timeline isn’t feasible either: some mental conditions may entail an ongoing treatment to prevent relapse. 

Plus, the patients’ needs can be changed during the treatment process. Some individuals might develop another mental condition, thereby necessitating urgent changes in the integrated care program. 

The Most Common Mental Conditions

Research has proven that certain mental conditions might indirectly induce particular substance abuse. By using this data, the medical team can be a step ahead of the probable substance abuse, thereby preventing it from happening altogether.  


Without a doubt, depression is among the most common mental problems in the world. Studies show that about 16 million Americans have suffered from at least one major depressive episode during their life

Unsurprisingly, depression is 3–4 times more likely to be found among people suffering from SUD than those who are substance-free. 

Scientists are still unsure of the connection, but it’s believed that depressed patients consume substances to alleviate the feeling of sadness and worthlessness. 

Bipolar Disorder

People diagnosed with bipolar disorder suffer from episodes of depression followed by bouts of extreme emotional mania. These mood swings happen abruptly without stimulus. 

Just like depression, patients with bipolar disorder feel that they can cure themselves by consuming certain substances. Some become extremely confident of this fact when the activity bouts accidentally align with the medication intake. Research already shows that 60% of bipolar disorder patients develop SUD at some point during their lifetime. 

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

As the name implies, people suffering from ADHD have trouble paying attention. They also have a hard time controlling impulsive behaviors or over-activity. 

Surprisingly, some ADHD patients may develop SUD after abusing their prescribed medications. A 2018 study revealed that 5 million Americans misused stimulant medications at least once in their lifetime. This becomes significantly worrying after knowing that ADHD is common among children. 

Final Thoughts

If you have any mental condition that affects your ability to make radical decisions, seek treatment as soon as possible. If you already developed a substance use disorder, don’t give in; recovery is always achievable as long as you’re ready to do whatever it takes.