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    According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 37.9% of people with drug addiction (also called substance use disorder) have at least one other mental illness. This condition is known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. 

    Most addiction treatment centers offer dual diagnosis programs, which treat not only addiction but also other mental health conditions. An integrated treatment approach ensures that both conditions are treated at the same time.

    What Types Of Mental Health Conditions Do Dual Diagnosis Programs Treat?

    It depends on the program. Most dual diagnosis programs treat the majority of mental health conditions, including:

    Before you choose a dual diagnosis program, make sure the treatment team has experience treating your specific mental health condition(s).

    What To Expect From A Dual Diagnosis Program

    Most dual diagnosis programs are inpatient, meaning you live at the treatment center. However, if you have a milder condition and a strong support system at home, you may be eligible for outpatient dual diagnosis treatment

    Whether you choose inpatient or outpatient care, a team of behavioral health care professionals will evaluate your situation when you enter the program. 

    They’ll verify that you meet the criteria for at least one mental health condition as defined by The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

    Next, they’ll design a personalized treatment plan for your substance use disorder and other mental health disorder(s).

    Co-occurring Mental Health & Substance Use Disorder Treatment

    Most integrated treatment plans include the following treatment services:

    Medical Detox

    To recover from a dual diagnosis, you need to stop using drugs. During medical detox, your treatment team will help you stop using drugs while monitoring your health and watching for withdrawal symptoms. 

    They may prescribe medications, such as sleep aids or anti-nausea medications, to ease certain withdrawal symptoms.


    Therapy is an essential part of treatment for substance use disorder and other mental health problems. The most common types of therapy for dual diagnosis include:

    • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), where you can learn how to manage unhelpful thoughts and develop coping skills to deal with triggers (people, places, thoughts, feelings, or situations that make you want to use drugs)
    • family therapy, where you and your family members can learn how to best support your recovery from drug abuse and other mental health issues 
    • group therapy, where you can share your experiences and coping skills with other people recovering from a dual diagnosis
    • contingency management, where you can receive rewards, such as cash or gift cards, for staying sober and making other positive life changes

    Psychiatric Medications

    Not everyone with a dual diagnosis needs medication. However, many people find that medications decrease symptoms of mental illness and make it easier to succeed in therapy. 

    Common psychiatric medications include antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety medications. 

    Wellness Activities

    To recover from a dual diagnosis, you must take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. That’s why most addiction/mental health treatment programs offer wellness activities such as:

    • meditation
    • yoga
    • exercise
    • journaling
    • arts and crafts

    These activities can boost your mood and help you focus on the present moment, making recovery easier. 

    Aftercare Planning

    Before you leave the program, your treatment team can help you create a personalized aftercare plan. Designed to help you avoid relapse and maintain good mental health, the plan may include services such as:

    • ongoing therapy
    • support groups
    • wellness activities
    • assistance with housing and employment

    Does Insurance Cover Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

    Most insurance plans will cover some or all of dual diagnosis treatment. To determine exactly how much coverage you’ll receive, contact a treatment facility with your insurance information.

    If you or a loved one struggles with addiction alongside another mental health condition, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist to learn more about dual diagnosis treatment programs.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Comorbidity: Substance Use and Other Mental Disorders
    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
    U.S. National Library of Medicine - Dual Diagnosis

    Medically Reviewed by
    Davis Sugar, M.D.
    on June 26, 2022
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