Dual Diagnosis


Dual diagnosis is an emerging and innovative field of addiction treatment. Until about 20 years ago, if someone had a mental health disorder as well as a substance addiction, the two would be treated as separate conditions. People were also told that they would have to rehabilitate from their substance abuse before they could receive psychological treatment. We now know, thankfully, that substance abuse and mental illness often go hand in hand, which means they need to be treated as such as well. This is what is now known as a dual diagnosis.

What Is Different in Treatment Under Dual Diagnosis?

Nowadays, we blend mental healthcare and treatment for substance abuse together when needed. There is no longer a hard line dividing psychiatry and addiction, looking at it as a continuum instead. Our therapists at Creative Care have been trained to work with co-occurring mental health problems and our dedicated facility will give you the recovery services that are tailored to your individual needs.

In a recent study by the Office of Applied Studies, it was determined that there are currently some 4 million people in our country who have a dual diagnosis. However, only 12% of these people are actually receiving appropriate treatment. This is a terrible statistic and we are working hard at improving it. If you do have a dual diagnosis, your recovery process will have to consider both your mental illness and your addiction.

The care we offer is designed to give you the greatest chance at a successful recovery. As such, it includes:

  • Parallel treatment, looking at both your substance abuse and your mental illness.
  • The use of psychotherapeutic medication as required.
  • A therapy that is supportive and will help you to build self-esteem and confidence, rather than focusing on aggressive and negative statements.
  • A holistic care package that also includes your family support network through alternative treatment, counselling and group and individual therapy.

Receiving a Dual Diagnosis

A number of criteria have been set out in the DSM-V, which has been created by the American Psychiatric Association. This is a guideline that all mental health professionals use and that also offers ways of treating people in all the different types of clinical settings. At Creative Care, we employ fully qualified physicians, psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists and counsellors, and they are all able to diagnose you with a Dual Diagnosis. The addiction you are also dealing with can be any substance, but it can also be an addictive behaviour, such as gambling or sex.

Once you receive your diagnosis, you may experience a huge sense of relief. Living with an undiagnosed mental illness is incredibly life-limiting. You may have had to cope with episodes of hopelessness, severe mood swings, suicidal thoughts, sadness, flashbacks to certain moments of trauma, hallucinations and more. Although giving a name to the condition is not a cure, it does mean that treatment is out there.

Signs and Symptoms of a Dual Diagnosis

In order to receive a diagnosis, our mental health professionals and addiction specialists will work closely with you. However, there are a number of signs and symptoms that you, or your loved ones, can look out for as well. It may be useful to speak to the therapist about this once you come in for treatment.

The signs of a dual diagnosis include the following, and focus mainly on the addictive behavior the person is engaging in.

  • Leaving a regular group of friends and family members for a new crowd or new activities out of the blue.
  • Struggling to meet work or school commitments.
  • Stealing or lying in order to be able to afford the substance addiction.
  • Sleeping during the day and staying up at night, above and beyond what could be considered as normal teenage behavior in younger people.
  • Frequently trying to quite the addictive behavior, but relapsing numerous times.
  • Feeling regret and guilt about the compulsive behavior.
  • Becoming tolerant to drugs, meaning that more has to be taken. This also leads to more risk-taking behavior, in order to achieve the same high.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms whenever the dosage is cut down, either slightly or significantly.

The symptoms of a dual diagnosis include the following, and focus mainly on the mental illness that the person is also suffering from:

  • Refusing offers of support or friendship and choosing to socially isolate themselves.
  • Having delusions (believing things that are outside of reality) and having hallucinations (tactile, auditory, sensory and so on).
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, despair or worthlessness for at least two consecutive weeks.
  • A compulsion to follow confusing and complicated rituals in order to maintain a certain order. This helps them to relieve the internal anxiety they experience.
  • Difficulty in holding a job, maintaining friendships and paying bills because of mood swings or behavioral issues.
  • Dramatic changes in energy levels and mood.
  • Copes with stress by engaging in compulsions or by taking substances.

It is not possible to guess whether or not someone has a dual diagnosis. Only a trained specialist who understands the condition and psychiatric and addiction care is able to offer the diagnosis. At Creative Care, our evaluation specialists and intake counselors will evaluate the substance abuse pattern and the psychiatric history and decide whether or not a dual diagnosis is appropriate. An individual treatment plan will then be developed in order to help the recovery process. If you do not meet the criteria for a dual diagnosis, this does not mean that help is not out there for you. Rather, it means we will specifically address whatever issues you are currently dealing with.

Treatment Options

We believe that every person is an individual, and never is this truer than when someone has a dual diagnosis. Because there are so many different mental health disorders, and so many different addictions, the combinations are almost endless. We will help you to get the right treatment for both your mental illness and your addiction, regardless of what these are. Some of the most common mental illnesses with dual diagnosis include mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders and eating disorders. Please contact the Creative Care team today in order to get started on the road to recovery.

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