A dual diagnosis treatment center is one that provides treatment for individuals who have coexisting difficulties with mental health and drugs and/or alcohol. The treatment of individuals who have both mental health difficulties and substance use difficulties is generally considered to be more complex than treating either one alone. It is a dilemma commonly faced in mental health. It is very common, for example, for individuals with substance use issues to also have co-occurring mental health difficulties. The reverse is also true; though, to a lesser extent.
Despite the fact that many individuals are in need of treatment for both mental health and substance use, it can be difficult to find adequate treatment to address both issues at the same time. A common approach is to treat a person’s substance abuse first, while having them meet with a therapist for mental health problems as an adjunct to the substance abuse, which is commonly viewed as the bigger problem. Then, once the individual has finished their substance abuse treatment, they are commonly expected to follow up with another provider to address their mental health difficulties. All too often, however, this creates difficulties, such as lack of follow-through or concerns about having to start therapy with someone new.
Likewise, if someone is being treated for mental health difficulties, but their substance abuse is not being adequately addressed (Research shows that roughly one-half of individuals with significant mental health difficulties abuse substances.), their mental health is more likely to deteriorate. They are also at greater risk for violence, legal difficulties, and suicide, and they are more likely to experience an increase in their mental health difficulties.
If you or a loved one are struggling with both mental health difficulties and substance abuse, it is important to engage in treatment that can adequately address both difficulties simultaneously, without the need to put one concern on hold until the other concern has abated.
Rick Beisinger Psy. D