How Do Rehab Centers Treat Dual Diagnosis Patients?

Published: 04/24/2016 | Author:

A dual diagnosis patient is difficult to accurately diagnose and treat, while that patient is still addicted to drugs. This is a very common occurrence, as mental patients have a high rate of substance abuse and substance abusers have a higher chance of having a mental illness. So, how do rehab centers treat dual diagnosis patients?

Detoxification and Evaluation

According to the National Library of Medicine, a person with a dual diagnosis has both a substance abuse disorder and another mental disorder. The first step in any dual diagnosis treatment program is detoxification.

Once the substance of abuse and its lingering effects have been removed from the patient, they are evaluated by mental health and medical professionals to get an accurate picture of what mental disorders may exist and whether or not they were caused by the substance use disorder. Once this has been determined, treatment can begin.

If you need help with detoxing from an addiction that is part of a dual diagnosis, contact today!

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Partial Treatment

dual diagnosis patients

Addiction and mental health issues should be addressed at the same time for optimal recovery outcomes.

Partial treatment involves treating either the mental disorder or the substance use disorder—depending on which was determined to be primary. This has the benefits of very focused treatment, and a small treatment team that is able to provide more personal care. However, it has the drawback of not addressing what is determined to be the secondary disorder, often resulting in a relapse of both.

Sequential Treatment

Sequential treatment is similar to partial treatment, except that the patient receives treatment for both the primary and secondary disorders; they are treated one after the other. The fact that both disorders are treated is huge benefit, but the fact that treatment of the secondary disorder doesn’t begin until the primary disorder is under control leads to slow progress; it can be attributed to the fact that complications from the secondary disorder often complicate treatment of the primary.

Parallel Treatment

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, in parallel treatment, both disorders are treated simultaneously. However, these treatments are done by separate individuals or treatment teams. While it is beneficial to treat co-occurring disorders at the same time, the fact that they are treated separately has the drawbacks of contradictory treatment protocols and confusion for the patient.

Integrated Treatment

Integrated treatment, like parallel treatment, focuses on both disorders at the same time. However, the treatment for both is carried out by the same treatment team. This is believed to lead to better control of both disorders, lower chance of relapse, and longer remission of substance abuse and mental disturbances. However, this approach is relatively new, and there is not enough research to determine if it is truly more effective than any other treatment method.

How to Find Treatment If You Suspect a Dual Diagnosis

Again, the most important step in any substance abuse treatment, including treatment for dual diagnosis, is detox. The prospect of detoxing can be frightening and overwhelming. Fortunately, there are a number of detox facilities that can ease this process. If you are ready to begin living your life free from drugs and alcohol, call us at 800-483-2193(Who Answers?), and we will help you find the detox that is right for you.


  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018). Dual Diagnosis.
  2. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (n.d.). Mental Illness & Addiction Index.
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