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Dual Diagnosis: What Treatment Options Are Available?

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Dual diagnosis, also known as dual disorder or comorbidity, means that a person has both a substance use disorder as well as a mental health disorder. One disorder has been known to heighten or mask the symptoms of the other, which can make it difficult for professionals to determine which came first. Usually, that means that they have to be treated at the same time. So what treatment options are available to those who have dual diagnosis?

Assessment for dual diagnosis

Before being accepted into a Los Angeles program for SUD, an assessment process has to take place. Generally, health professionals will determine whether the individual meets the criteria for a psychiatric disorder, there’s been a history of substance use that has negatively affected their life, they might be a danger to themselves, and whether they have the motivation to go through rehabilitation.

Dialectic behavioural therapy

One of the treatment options for dual diagnosis is dialectical behavioural therapy. It’s goal is to help the patient accept their behavior and seek out new strategies to help them change those behaviors. It also has the goal of reducing self-harming behaviours that often come with mental health and substance use disorders.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Also known as CBT, it is a form of treatment that has been effective at treating a wide range of disorders, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and alcohol/drug use. CBT focuses on changing thinking patterns that create these problems, developing understanding of certain behaviors, and building problem-solving skills to help cope with these situations.

Dual diagnosis detox

When entering a dual diagnosis treatment programme, the first step is usually detoxification. Drugs and alcohol are removed from the body, and the patient is prepared for the treatment programme so that they know what’s coming. Detox is done with supervision, since withdrawal symptoms can range from unpleasant to downright dangerous. The detox process can take as long as a week, depending on the level of addiction and the substance.

Inpatient dual diagnosis treatment

Inpatient care is when the person is admitted as a resident of the rehab facility. They reside within the center for the duration of their treatment, abiding by the rules, and regularly attending different seminars and appointments that have been set up for them. Different facilities might allow them to have visitors or leave the center for small periods of time on a regular basis.

Outpatient dual diagnosis treatment

Outpatient treatment is a more flexible option for those who don’t want to be admitted to the facility 24/7. It can vary in intensity based on the patient’s needs, but the average is about 30 hours per week at a rehab center. Outpatient treatment is also available to those who feel that inpatient treatment is no longer necessary, and is a stepping stone before they’re able to manage their lives on their own.

A dual diagnosis isn’t something you have to live with alone. Consider speaking to a medical professional or care provider to get the help that you need. You can regain control over your life again and kick those bad habits for good. 


Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.

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