A Complete Guide to Dual Diagnosis Treatment

This entry was posted in Dual Diagnosis on by .

What came first, the chicken or the egg? This ancient question applies in many scenarios, including dual diagnosis.

In 2019, 9.5 million United States Adults experienced both a substance use disorder and a mental health diagnosis—or dual diagnosis.

If you are one of many who have a dual diagnosis and need treatment, keep reading for more information about dual diagnosis treatment.

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

Dual Diagnosis is when an individual has both a substance abuse diagnosis and a mental health diagnosis. For example, an individual with an addiction to heroin that also has a diagnosis of depression.

In the world of dual diagnosis, the question of what came first often comes into play. Did the individual struggle with depression before becoming addicted to heroin? Or is the depression a result of the addiction to heroin?

Unfortunately, individuals who have a mental health disorder are more likely to become addicted to substances. Often, in this case, addiction occurs when the individuals self-medicates using drugs.

However, on the other side of things, those who struggle with addiction can develop a mental health disorder because of how their drug of choice changes the brain.

What Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

When an individual with a dual diagnosis enters treatment, the best course of action is to treat both the substance abuse and mental health diagnosis at the same time. What becomes tricky when it comes to dual diagnosis treatment is determining what is causing certain symptoms.

This is why it is important to see a treatment provider who is skilled in providing dual diagnosis treatment. For a dual diagnosis, behavioral therapies are often used. Medication management can also be a factor in dual diagnosis treatment.

Treatment for a dual diagnosis can be either inpatient or outpatient. There are many factors to help you decide what path you want to take. Work with your provider to determine what the best path is for you.

A treatment plan created by your provider will often be multi-faceted. However, here is a general path that you may see.


Before treatment can begin, an evaluation must occur. During this process, psychiatric health is assessed. You will also be asked about substances that you have used.

Your history and assessment are combined and a diagnosis is made. Once a diagnosis is made, conversations about what treatment will look like and the process of creating a treatment plan can begin.


Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a therapy often used for dual diagnosis. In CBT, one of the goals is to identify faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking. Once you can identify this, the process becomes about changing those thinking patterns.

Once you can identify the faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking and work on changing those thinking patterns, you can then begin translating that into changing your behavior.

Having a skilled therapist to walk you through this is important. However, you must also be willing to put in the work.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is another common treatment used in dual diagnosis treatment. Often, the people in the group will have the same substance abuse or mental health diagnosis. In group therapy, you cannot only receive support from your group, but you can give support to other members of your group.

One of the many benefits of group therapy is that it helps you see that you are not alone. In addition, you can share and discuss similar life challenges. Sometimes listening to the experiences of others can help with self-awareness.

Family Therapy

Addiction does not only affect the person with the addiction. Individuals with a dual diagnosis often need to rebuild relationships with family members.

A therapist can help you learn to communicate with your family again. In addition, your family can receive education on addiction and mental health.

Your family is a big part of your support system, so learning to communicate and building strong relationships is important.

After-Care Treatment

What happens when treatment ends? When you complete treatment for your dual diagnosis, there is not a magical switch that flips and proclaims you as cured, unfortunately.

After treatment, you need to keep putting in the work to stay sober and address your mental health. A good treatment program will help prepare you and support you through what happens after treatment.

This is going to include education around preventing relapse—helping teach you to create effective support systems and helping you identify ongoing treatment.

Some after-care treatment options can include sober living facilities, regular therapy sessions, drug testing, group therapy, weekend stays at rehab, and more.

Benefits of Dual Diagnosis Treatment

There are many benefits to dual diagnosis treatment. The biggest benefit is that it allows you to take a more holistic approach to treatment.

If you treat just the substance abuse diagnosis but not the mental health diagnosis, then the treatment will not be as effective. This works both ways.

Treating one diagnosis without treating the other just shifts the problems you are experiencing to somewhere else in your life.

By treating both at once, you can better understand how your substance abuse and mental health relate to each other. This understanding can help you develop skills that can help you cope without using substances.

Get Treatment for Your Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis treatment is the best choice for individuals with a substance abuse diagnosis and mental health diagnosis. If you are an individual who needs dual diagnosis treatment, get the help you need from qualified professionals.

Oakvine Recovery Center offers dual diagnosis treatment in Texas. We are committed to helping give you the tools you need for recovery. Contact us for more information on treatment today.