a person looking at a river during dual diagnosis treatment Struggling with drug or alcohol abuse can be daunting. Addiction is a disease that can’t be overcome in isolation. Fortunately, dedicated treatment professionals like those at Sierra Sage Recovery Services are waiting to help individuals get the support they need to heal. Many struggling with substance use disorder or addiction are also dealing with an underlying mental health condition. For some, this mental health condition may be the cause of their addiction. For others, their addiction has led to struggles with mental health. No matter which is the case, both conditions need to be treated simultaneously so that the individual can heal and recover properly. This is done through dual diagnosis treatment.

What Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Abusing drugs or alcohol doesn’t happen randomly. Usually, dependency or addiction is a disease that takes hold of an individual slowly over time. There is no single way addiction affects individuals. For example, many using prescription opioids for pain management become addicted inadvertently and unintentionally. Although they follow their doctor’s directions about their medication correctly, the drug’s potency can still cause them to become dependent. In this example, to overcome addiction, the individual needs not only to address their opiate dependency but their underlying condition of chronic pain. This is an example of a co-occurring condition.

Similarly, individuals may be experiencing extreme emotional and physical discomfort due to an underlying mental health condition they are unaware they are struggling with, such as depression or trauma. To deal with their pain, individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. While initially relieving their distress, using drugs or alcohol only masks the underlying condition. In doing so, the substance use disorder allows their mental health condition to go untreated and worsen, causing the individual to abuse more drugs or alcohol. The cycle is dangerous and greatly increased the likelihood an individual will become addicted. To heal, individuals need to have both the underlying condition and addiction treated simultaneously to avoid relapse. Dual diagnosis treatment is the process of addressing co-occurring conditions.

Conditions a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program Addresses

Dual diagnosis treatment can address any drug or alcohol addiction and any combination of mental health conditions. However, some co-occurring conditions are more frequently seen than others. For example, individuals often experience the following:

  • Anxiety: There are numerous anxiety disorders. However, all types cause unnaturally high levels of fear, panic, and worry in individuals affecting their decision-making and ability to function daily.
  • Depression: Arguably, the most prevalent mental health issue affecting Americans. Depression is a mood disorder causing individuals to experience overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and despair. Individuals can suffer from psychological and physical symptoms.
  • Bipolar disorder: This mood disorder includes periods of mania followed by periods of depression. These changes are extreme and sudden, seeming to come out of nowhere and just as suddenly disappear.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Although most often associated with combat veterans, PTSD can occur in anyone who has experienced a traumatic event. Symptoms are often a combination of avoidance actions, mood changes, and re-experiencing the event’s trauma.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): While some may consider this condition mild and manageable, many individuals find it exceptionally challenging to cope with and manage OCD healthily. The condition causes uncontrollable thoughts and behaviors that must occur repeatedly. Often, these negatively affect how well an individual can navigate their everyday responsibilities and tasks.

Sierra Sage

When mental health conditions and substance use disorders collide, it can be especially challenging for someone to recover. Co-occurring disorders require dual diagnosis treatment. At Sierra Sage Recovery Services, we offer comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment across all of our programs:

To learn more about these programs and the others we offer, reach out to our admissions counselors at 833.922.2884.