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Dual Diagnosis: Treating Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Dillon McClernon

Authored by Dillon McClernon

Addiction treatment is far more effective when doctors address mental health and substance abuse disorders concurrently.


Every day, patients who have entered into one of our substance abuse treatment centers for substance abuse find that mental health is a larger factor than they may have previously known. We consider these patients to have a “dual diagnosis,” meaning that both substance abuse and mental health disorder diagnoses are present, and we need to address them concurrently by a treatment program in order to give the best chance of successful rehabilitation.

Dual diagnosis patients require a different level of integrated care in order to address both disorders. Often patients have turned to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with depression or anxiety disorders. This never ends well. Unfortunately, our patient usually has to reach a stage of bottoming out before they get adequate care.

In fact, around 50% of people living with a dual diagnosis do not get the medical treatment or psychotherapy necessary for recovery. This number can be reduced by encouraging patients to seek out full-service inpatient rehab centers that are prepared to deal with both substance abuse and mental health therapies.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health: Dual Treatment = Greater Success

Half of the Americans living with severe mental health disorders also have a substance abuse disorder. These people are not receiving adequate care to address the deeply entangled roots of their “dual diagnosis.”

The solution is to encourage patients who have dual diagnosis to seek out treatment that will address both problems. More and more often there are inclusive substance abuse treatment centers with a plethora of services available.  This allows physicians to custom tailor treatment programs to each individual’s background and diagnosis needs.

If you’ve experienced addiction, you likely know the pain of trying to stay sober, only to fall short and relapse. It may bring a wave of guilt and depression, or feelings of failure. In truth, relapse is a part of recovery, and ideally you should have a plan in place ahead of time. If you have tried other programs before and failed, remember that every attempt to quit is in itself a victory. Even if it takes multiple tries, again, it is the trying that is the crucial part. As long as you do not lose focus on the goal of sobriety, you can continue to try again.

Substance abuse and mental health disorders so often appear at the same time and are so deeply interconnected; it only makes sense for treatment programs to address both disorders with similarly interconnected treatment plans and procedures. When combined with substance abuse, depression can be extremely difficult to deal with on your own, and there are neighborhood treatment centers near you available to help today.

Authored by

Dillon McClernon

Dillon McClernon

Dillon currently serves as the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at RCA. After his tenure as Chief Communications Officer and senior advisor to RCA, he opted for a full-time position at RCA where he could build a new team linking sales and marketing to directly impact RCA’s mission of saving 1 million lives.


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