How Does Dual Diagnosis Affect Behavior?

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

When substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder is accompanied by an underlying mental health condition, this is known as dual diagnosis.

Dual diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorder, merits from specialized treatment that addresses both issues simultaneously.

With both addiction and mental illness complex issues, how common is dual diagnosis, and what kind of mental health conditions are typical?




What Is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis patients grapple with two pronounced conditions co-occurring. In order to most effectively treat both of these conditions, you’ll need the right dual diagnosis treatment program in California. We’ll be guiding you through what’s on offer at Renaissance Recovery Center if you’re struggling with dual diagnosis.

If you are, you’re certainly not alone. Based on 2018 data, more than 9 million adults in the United States have co-occurring disorder.

Whether it’s mild depression or severe bipolar disorder presenting at the same time as addiction, or another mental health condition like anxiety, ADHD, or PTSD, you’ll need expert guidance to address the issues triggered by each condition.

Sometimes, addiction comes about as a result of a mental health disorder. Sometimes, mental health conditions are triggered by substance abuse. Sometimes, the conditions occur simultaneously yet independently.

Many people with undiagnosed mental health conditions find the symptoms so unbearable that they self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Not only does this do nothing to alleviate the underlying symptoms, the abuse will also inflame things further.

Mental Health Conditions

It can be tough to establish which comes first, the addiction or the mental health disorder.

Even without a co-occurring substance use disorder, personality disorders, a mental health disorder is complicated and nuanced. When both are triggering negative outcomes at the same time, speedy and accurate diagnosis is key.

One of the inbuilt problems of treating dual diagnosis is that those who have this condition are often more treatment-resistant than those without the co-occurring disorder.

The right dual diagnosis treatment center with a proven history of successfully treating clients with co-occurring disorders is vital if you want to maximize your chances of sustained recovery.

With the wrong diagnosis, you could easily squander time, money, and energy pursuing inappropriate lines of treatment unlikely to yield dividends. Hence, going to an addiction treatment center would be a good choice to kickstart treatment that would produce the results of sobriety a client is trying to attain. There are many treatment options available at Renaissance for any number of dual diagnoses treatments from CBT, DBT, Inpatient, outpatient, medication-assisted treatment, group therapies, holistic healing services, and much more.






Anxiety and other mood disorders

More than 50% of people with mood disorders or anxiety disorder also suffer from substance use disorder.

When someone is accurately diagnosed with a mood disorder or with anxiety, this can prevent substance abuse occurring in an attempt to self-medicate.

Both medication-assisted treatment and psychotherapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can be effective and replace substance abuse as coping mechanisms.



People with schizophrenia often use alcohol, nicotine, and illegal drugs as a means of coping with often disturbing symptoms.

In some cases, marijuana use can trigger latent schizophrenia, or trigger psychotic episodes in those with schizophrenia.






How Can You Treat Dual Diagnosis?

Well, this is not straightforward and any treatment needs to start with a precise diagnosis of both conditions.

Typically, mental health disorders and addiction are treated by totally different areas of health services. When treating dual diagnosis, though, attacking each issue independently is not the way forward. Instead, a holistic approach with integrated treatment is proven more effective for treating co-occurring disorder.

There are almost infinite variations in dual diagnosis with myriad mental health conditions combining with a variety of substance use disorders. Some people suffer from more than one mental health condition, while others abuse more than one substance.

Finding the right dual diagnosis treatment center is crucial to maximize your chances of sustained recovery from both conditions holding you back.


Medication-Assisted Treatment

There is inadequate research into medications suitable for treating dual diagnosis.

Instead, we’re left to rely on FDA-approved medications for managing cravings in clients with substance use disorder.

Beyond this, there is a range of prescription medication that can be administered to alleviate the symptoms of all mental health conditions.



Psychotherapy or behavioral therapy is perhaps the most effective treatment method for co-occurring disorder.

There are many available options, including:

  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • DBT (dialectical behavior therapy)
  • Exposure therapy


CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)

CBT is a form of evidence-based therapy that helps you to examine the negative patterns of thinking and behaviors that lead you to use substances. Instead, you’ll learn healthier coping mechanisms to ease you through life’s inevitable stressors.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is proven effective for minimizing relapse in clients with substance use disorder.


DBT (dialectic behavior therapy)

DBT is a highly specific form of CBT that can be usefully applied for treating co-occurring disorder.


Exposure therapy

PTSD sufferers often benefit from exposure therapy. Being continually exposed to traumatic experiences, but in a supportive and controlled environment, can lead to clients conquering their fears.


Renaissance Recovery: Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center California

Our dual diagnosis treatment program here at Renaissance Recovery is personalized so you benefit from intensive medication-assisted treatment combined with psychotherapies and other therapies to help you gradually become substance-free while also addressing your mental health condition.

Whether you have depression or anxiety, bipolar or PTSD, a cocaine addiction or an alcohol use disorder, we’ll help you address the symptoms of all conditions holding you back.

Everything starts with a detailed assessment and examination. From there, we’ll create an individualized plan of treatment so you can start living with a clear mind and a body free of toxins.

To move one step closer to making this a reality, call our friendly team today at 866.330.9449.



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Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

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“They truly cared for me and the other people that I served with! From this group, I have made 8 new brothers and friends for life! We have continued on, after the program, to take care of each other”

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“Great staff who took the time to get to know me. They have a lot of experience in this field and have first hand experience with what I was going through. IOP is outstanding and really built up a ton of great relationships and found this program to be a ‘breath of fresh air’.”

Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country