Dual Diagnosis and Co-Occurring Disorders

Dual Diagnosis is Common in Addiction Treatment

Dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders are common terms in the addiction industry.  Many people have never heard of these terms before and are unsure of what they mean.


In short, co-occurring disorders simply means that a person has 2 disorders at once.  Dual  diagnosis is the term used to describe people  who have a mental disorder  in combination with a substance use disorder.  . Mental health  and substance use disorders often occur together and are so intertwined that it can be difficult to decide which came first.  Regardless, it is critical that both be addressed in treatment for a full recovery.  Treatment plans should be customized and reflect all disorders - both mental and substance use. Discovering a co-occurring disorder provides renewed hope for many who can then gain treatment for this part of their collective problem.

At HSR, we have identified 4 common risk factors that contribute to both chronic substance use disorders and chronic mental health struggles.  They are:

  • Highly sensitive person (20% of the population)
  • Chronic emotional stuffers (hold feelings inside)
  • Unresolved childhood trauma,
  • Current day stressors,

How common is a dual diagnosis for patients seeking addiction recovery?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has stated that about four million Americans deal with addiction. Only about half of these patients receive treatment for their substance use. . Many are stuck in a cycle of co-occurring disorders, with one issue feeding the other. While there is much debate as to whether addiction causes the co-occurring disorder or mental illness existed before addiction, the reality is that co-occurring disorders require treatment of both problems for a solid chance of recovery.

Complicating the issue of "which came first," mental illness and addiction share several risk factors. The major risk factors these co-occurring condition share include:

  • Environmental triggers such as trauma or stress that lead to either a mental illness like PTSD or substance abuse as a coping mechanism
  • Commonly appear during adolescence, when the brain is still developing and forms expectations that drive later impulses
  • Brain abnormalities caused by each condition, with mental illness enabling addiction and addiction facilitating mental illness

Connection Between Dual Diagnosis Conditions

Understanding that dual diagnosis is a complex and individualized issue, the symbiotic relationship between mental illness and addiction can be defined in several ways:

  • As self-medication, using drugs or alcohol to help a mental illness feel less extreme while causing the mental illness to grow in the process of this self-medication
  • Exacerbating mental health conditions through drug or alcohol use, such as during withdrawal from addiction, in acute intoxication or at other times of substance abuse
  • Addiction leading to mental illness symptom onset, with symptoms of an underlying mental condition such as psychosis first appearing through drug-induced paranoia or other symptoms

There are tens of thousands of American adults provided with a co-occurring condition diagnosis each year. Regardless of root causes or which problem first took hold, there’s an overlap between mental health issues and addiction. Because of this overlap, treatment planning has to address dual diagnosis and provide options for overcoming both conditions at the same time. Otherwise, relapse is inevitable, and subsequent exacerbation of the mental health problems will continue.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Healing Springs Ranch in Tioga, TX

Healing Springs Ranch is a residential treatment program for adults who struggle with all addictive patterns and behaviors – both substance addictions and process addictions.  . Co-occurring disorders are commonly recognized in patients at Healing Springs Ranch. To address these co-occurring disorders and provide patients with complete healing toward lasting recovery, a clear diagnosis is provided by treatment providers with individualized treatment planning.

If you or someone you love is ready to overcome addiction and believe a co-occurring condition may exist, a clear diagnosis at Healing Springs Ranch can provide renewed hope for freedom from the cycle of substance use. Contact Healing Springs Ranch now for more information about our residential treatment program and getting started on the road to a healthy, whole-person recovery.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Some of the co-occurring mental health diagnoses most often seen in conjunction with various addictive patterns are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
  • BiPolar
  • Eating Disorders
  • Personality Disorders