Dual Diagnosis

What is dual diagnosis?

According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), dual diagnosis is a term used to describe people with mental illness who also have problems with drugs and/or alcohol. The relationship between the two is complex, and the treatment of people with co-occurring substance use and mental illness is more complicated than the treatment of either condition alone. This is unfortunately a common situation — many people with mental illness have ongoing substance use problems, and many people who abuse drugs and alcohol also experience mental illness.

What is the relationship between substance use and mental illness? Alcohol and drug use can:

  • worsen underlying mental health issues (e.g., anxiety and depression)
  • be a form of self-medication
  • cause a person without a mental illness to experience the onset of symptoms for the first time

Research has strongly indicated that to recover fully, a consumer with co-occurring disorder needs treatment for both problems — focusing on one does not ensure the other will go away. Dual diagnosis services integrate assistance for each condition, helping people recover from both in one setting, at the same time.

Click here to read more about the importance of receiving integrated dual diagnosis treatment.