Dual diagnosis (also called a co-occurring disorder) describes the situation in which a person has one or more mental health disorders in addition to the substance abuse disorder.

This is likely more common than you think.

In fact, in 2018, the most recent year for which data has been collected, an estimated 9.2 million adults in the U.S. suffered with both mental health condition and substance abuse disorder. Although, not all received dual diagnosis treatment.

Truly, addictions and mental health treatment in Oregon can help these individuals overcome addiction and learn to manage their other mental health disorder. This can help them find long-term success in recovery. Getting into a dual diagnosis treatment program that includes trauma therapy in Oregon and/or an Oregon group therapy program can completely change you and/or your loved one’s life.

Having dual disorders may seem alarming at first. But it may offer relief to understand underlying issues. Learning more about it can put a person’s fears to rest. Additionally, considering dual diagnosis treatment options can show those suffering from addiction that it’s possible to manage both conditions.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

a man enrolls in a dual diagnosis treatment

Only a qualified counselor, therapist or other professionals can diagnose co-occurring disorders. A dual diagnosis occurs when the patient has an addiction problem along with another mental disorder.

Alcohol and drug addictions tend to develop alongside anxiety, depression and personality disorders. Sometimes the mental disorder is present when the addiction starts. Other times, an addiction can cause a mental disorder to develop. In either case, the two often “feed off each other”. This creates an especially volatile vicious cycle.

Co-occurring disorders can be scary for someone who doesn’t know that he or she has been suffering with mental illness. Additionally, family members who are unaware of dual diagnosis might not consider how the other mental health condition exacerbates the addiction. And, in some scenarios, this means extra shame and blame get thrown around.

It might also be a breath of fresh air to learn about dual diagnosis if doctors have missed it in the past. Alas, even a skilled professional who isn’t specialized in dual-diagnosis can overlook the fact that the additional mental health disorder is making matters worse.

a woman talks about enrolling in dual diagnosis treatment



As we stated, only a trained professional can actually diagnose co-occurring disorders. But as a loved one of someone with a substance abuse disorder, you should be on the lookout for signs that the one you care about is suffering from dual-diagnosis since this will influence the type of care you seek.

With that in mind, some common signs that someone should be considered for a dual diagnosis program include:

A known diagnosed mental health disorder

Withdrawal from family and friends

Sudden behavioral changes

Using drugs in dangerous places, with especially dangerous people or through dangerous methods (sharing needles, etc.)

Feelings of being completely out of control of one’s use

Stating that they need the drug to function “normally”

Depending on the type of mental disorder, other symptoms may vary. But they could include things like extreme mood changes within a short period, significant mood highs and lows and/or avoiding activities they once loved. They might also talk about and/or attempt suicide.

Time is of the essence when someone is in this state-of-mind. Don’t delay in helping this individual get into treatment for their co-occurring condition.

This rehab facility, staff, and service offered is beyond magnificent. They helped my brother-in-law with alcohol addiction. Even though he moved back to SC. The follow up care was second to none. Highly recommended. They will help save your loved ones life if they are ready and willing to recover.

– Shannon


That’s an excellent question. If this is so common, aren’t all addiction treatment programs prepared to manage co-occurring conditions? Sadly, no. And this can dramatically impact the outcome of a treatment program.
You see, anxiety, compulsive disorders, depression, and trauma sometimes cause people with addictions to self-medicate when they can’t control their symptoms. They just want to find relief.

This is what makes treatment for co-occurring disorders so important. The symptoms of mental illness are risk factors for relapse, so treating both problems improves the rate of success.

When a program addresses the addiction as isolated from the overall mental health of the individual, they aren’t recognizing the role that mental health plays in the reasons a person uses, how often the use or why, in addition to the physical dependency, they continue to use.

On the other hand, a dual diagnosis treatment center recognizes this intertwined connection. It’s equipped to manage both. A dual diagnosis treatment program may involve additional therapy, medication management and other treatment.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorder Administration (SAMHSA) states it well when they say, “These illnesses are common, recurrent, and often serious, but they are treatable and many people do recover. Mental disorders involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior. These disorders can affect how we relate to others and make choices. Reaching a level that can be formally diagnosed often depends on a reduction in a person’s ability to function as a result of the disorder.”



There’s no one course of treatment that works for every patient with a dual diagnosis, because there are many mental health conditions that can occur alongside addiction. However, all treatment programs address the addictive behavior and specific disorder. The level of care that each patient needs depends on the extent of the addiction and severity of the disorder.

A dual diagnosis treatment center like Crestview Recovery offers dual diagnosis treatment in several levels of care like:

a woman talks to a therapist at a dual diagnosis treatment program

Extended Care

Intensive Outpatient (IOP)

Partial Hospitalization (PHP)

Rehab Aftercare

Many rehab centers that offer dual diagnosis treatment use medication to prevent delusions and traumatic flashbacks. These drugs also reduce agitation and anxiety as well as stabilize moods.

Just as important is the education that patients and their loved ones receive. The more informed everyone is, the more likely the patients are to have support and succeed in rehab.


First, forget everything you think you know about addition. Movies, television or personal experience can create a cloud of misconceptions and negative stereotypes that are counterproductive. You’ve come here. That’s a great start. You’re learning more about this condition and dual diagnosis treatment.

Next, check your judgment at the door. Shame and tough love are usually not the best way to help someone with dual diagnosis, let alone addiction. They likely already have low self-esteem even if they try to hide it. So they may act out.

Rather, show compassion. That doesn’t mean enabling. Rather, seek to understand and empathize while still setting clear boundaries to keep yourself and any impacted children safe.

Let them know what you’re seeing. That includes how this impacts them and those who are close to them. Try to focus on your own feelings rather than pointing fingers or making excuses. Consider writing out a letter and reading it to them in an intervention.


Located in Portland, Oregon, Crestview Recovery offers treatment for individuals with co-occurring disorders. We use evidence-based techniques for all types of substance abuse, including:

Our facility offers activities such as skiing, snowboarding and whitewater rafting. Along with dual diagnosis therapy, our staff of clinicians provides:


Art therapy

Individual therapy

Group therapy

Trauma therapy

Don’t let addiction and mental illness rule your life or the lives of your loved ones. You can take back control by enrolling in an addiction treatment program that Crestview Recovery offers. Contact us today at 866.262.0531 so we can help you begin the road to recovery.