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Treatment for Addiction: Finding Dual-Diagnosis Care for a Loved One

It is not uncommon for people battling addiction to have underlying mental health disorders and vice versa. Trying to figure out which came first is like pondering the chicken or the egg question and truthfully it doesn’t really matter. Both conditions need treatment and evidence is showing that treating them in tandem through dual-diagnosis treatment programs is the more effective route. Here’s a guide to understanding and finding the right dual-diagnosis care for your loved one. 


Understanding Dual-Diagnosis


Dual-diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorders, refers to the presence of both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder in the same individual. “More than one in four adults living with serious mental health problems also has a substance use problem.” Trying to treat these conditions independently of each other can end up exacerbating each issue and make treatment ineffective. 

Common co-occurring disorders include:

  • Depression & Alcoholism: Individuals may turn to alcohol to self-medicate for depression, leading to dependence.

  • Anxiety Disorders & Drug Abuse: Drugs may be used to alleviate anxiety symptoms, creating a cycle of dependence and exacerbation of anxiety.

  • Bipolar Disorder & Substance Abuse: The highs and lows of bipolar disorder can drive individuals to use substances to level out their moods.

  • Trauma & Substance Abuse: Drugs and alcohol are frequently used to self-medicate and numb the pain of previous trauma and abuse. 


Why Dual-Diagnosis Care is Essential


Treating addiction without looking at the underlying mental health issues can lead to relapse and ongoing struggles. Dual-diagnosis care integrates treatment for both disorders, providing a more holistic approach. This integrated treatment plan can include:

  • Comprehensive Assessments: Evaluations by professionals to understand the full scope of both disorders.

  • Integrated Treatment Plans: Coordinated care plans that address both mental health and substance use.

  • Specialized Therapies: Therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that are effective for both mental health and addiction.

  • Medication Management: Using medications to manage both mental health symptoms and addiction cravings. Working alongside a doctor or psychiatrist to monitor for side-effects and find appropriate medications and dosages so the individual can live a full, healthy life. 

  • Supportive Services: Peer support groups, family therapy, and educational programs to support the individual and their loved ones.


Steps to Find Dual-Diagnosis Care


1. Research and Referrals

Start by researching facilities that specialize in dual-diagnosis care in your area. Utilize online resources, healthcare providers, and mental health professionals for their knowledge and resources. Ask questions and look for centers with a strong reputation and positive reviews from former patients.

2. Verify Credentials & Accreditations

Ensure the treatment centers are accredited by reputable organizations such as the Joint Commission or CARF International. Accreditation ensures that the facility meets high standards of care and employs qualified professionals.

3. Assess the Treatment Approach

Learn about the treatment approaches used by the facility. Effective dual-diagnosis care should offer:

  • Integrated treatment plans tailored to individual needs.

  • Access to a multidisciplinary team including psychiatrists, psychologists, addiction specialists, and social workers.

  • Evidence-based therapies and holistic approaches.

  • Comprehensive aftercare planning to support long-term recovery.

4. Involve Your Loved One in the Decision

Ensure your loved one is involved in the decision-making process at they will be the ones spending their time there. It is imperative that their comfort and willingness to participate in the treatment plan are agreed upon before admission. Encourage open discussions about their needs and preferences.


Supporting Your Loved One Through Treatment


Once your loved one is in treatment, your support remains essential. Stay involved by:

  • Attending Family Therapy: Participate in family therapy sessions to improve communication and understand the dynamics that contribute to addiction.

  • Offering Encouragement: Provide emotional support and encouragement throughout their recovery journey.

  • Educating Yourself: Learn about both disorders to better understand their experiences and challenges.

  • Respecting Boundaries: Encourage independence while respecting their need for space and privacy.


Learn More


Recovery is a journey and with the right support and care you can help your loved one overcome their challenges and live a healthy, happy life. Call Holland Pathways today to learn more about dual-diagnosis treatment.