Our dual diagnosis treatment center helps people with co-occurring disorders of mental health and addiction in Agoura Hills and Malibu California. We also provide services for those in nearby areas such as Calabasas, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Woodland Hills, Studio City, Tarzana, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Ventura, Oxnard, and Santa Barbara.

When a person has a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder of mental illness and addiction, there are unique challenges to successful treatment.

As one of the leading Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers, Inspire Malibu integrates mental health and addiction treatment modalities into a single, comprehensive program specifically designed to meet each individual patient’s condition.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center CaliforniaNote the terms “Dual Diagnosis” and “Co-occurring Disorders” are often used interchangeably.

One common misconception is that drug use alone can cause psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, though symptoms may be similar. The difference is that drug or alcohol-induced psychosis impacts brain chemistry but often goes away as the effects of substance abuse diminish. In contrast, psychosis from mental illness may continue and require specific intervention to treat the disorder.

What are Common Types of Co-occurring Disorders?

There are many mental health disorders that can contribute to a dual diagnosis condition when combined with drug or alcohol abuse. The list below shows some of the more common disorders:

While this is not a complete list, it’s important to understand that these are the top-level disorders as they are usually referred to by doctors, therapists, and the general public. Many of these include multiple disorders that are grouped under the psychiatric category listed above.

For example, according to the latest update of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, which is used by professionals to diagnose illnesses, there are 10 types of disorders that fall under the category of “Personality Disorders.” These include Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCD), among eight others.

What Are the Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis?

While there are many varying dual diagnosis symptoms, typical symptoms can include:

  • Confusion
  • Impulsiveness
  • Aggressiveness
  • Mood swings
  • Strained personal relationships
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Poor hygiene
  • Poor physical health
  • Poor work performance, potentially leading to unemployment
  • Increased risk of homelessness
  • Increased risk of injury and disease

What are the Challenges of Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

There are many reasons why it’s difficult to treat people that have a mental health disorder combined with an alcohol or substance addiction, most notably because two things need to be addressed at the same time for treatment to be successful. The causes and symptoms for each also often overlap making it difficult to know which came first – the mental health disorder or substance addiction.

Co-occurring disorders are a very serious problem for patients and their doctors. Below are some facts that show how they tie together.

  • Drugs and alcohol can intensify mental disorder severity, presenting symptoms that mimic or mask mental disorders. Both severe intoxication and detox can appear as mental illness and vice versa.
  • Approximately 50% of individuals with severe mental disorders experience substance abuse.
  • According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about a third of the people with a substance abuse problem also have a mental illness.
  • People with Bipolar Disorder are 7 times more likely to have substance abuse problems than non-bipolar individuals.
  • More than 33% of schizophrenics meet the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder, and 47% of schizophrenics also have substance abuse disorders. That is more than 4 times greater than the general population.

A person with a dual diagnosis needs specialized professional care.

dual diagnosis summary

Do All Substance Abuse Facilities Treat Dual Diagnosis Patients?

Dual diagnosis is difficult to treat because many different things need to be addressed all at once. It takes time and effort to recover, both physically and mentally, just from a substance abuse issue alone. That process is made even more difficult with the addition of mental illness, which itself takes additional time to treat.

Many addiction treatment centers are not equipped to deal with the combination of mental illness and drug or alcohol addiction. Consequently, a conventional rehab center places the mentally ill patient, already emotionally and psychiatrically compromised, in a worse position for them, as well as those around them.

The patient may be discriminated against by treatment professionals and residents alike in drug or alcohol recovery, and there is a greater chance they stop participating in a mental health program than those not afflicted with drug or alcohol abuse.

Many treatment centers do not have a combination of addiction AND mental illness professionals available to treat both conditions. It’s imperative to treat addiction and mental illness at the same time. Otherwise, fixing one problem without fixing the other will almost always result in relapse.

In the simplest terms, the goal of treatment is to find the underlying issues that are causing the problems and work on fixing those issues. Some treatment centers understand this and refuse to work with patients with a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder and refuse to admit them because they know their work will be futile.

The first step is to focus on the substance detox. Medication may be used to make detox more comfortable.

After detox, various types of therapy are used to help the patient simultaneously learn to accept who they are and find a way to change their behavior.

Dual diagnosis is also difficult to treat because it can lead to therapy sessions that lack the clarity found in therapy for substance abuse alone. This is due to the fact that it’s often difficult to tell how much substance abuse is to blame for mental illness and vice versa, and substance abuse produces symptoms similar to the symptoms of mood and personality disorders.

Dual Diagnosis Programs at Inspire Malibu California

Inspire Malibu is uniquely qualified to provide dual diagnosis treatment.

Dr. Torrington is board-certified in Addiction Medicine by the American Board of Addiction Medicine and in Family Medicine by the American Academy of Family Medicine.

Our clients also benefit from a high staff-to-client ratio which allows our staff to give dual diagnosis patients the focused attention they need to handle two serious issues at once.

To ensure successful treatment, our staff incorporates proven, evidence-based therapies for substance abuse and mental illness, such as:

For anyone considering treatment for multiple conditions such as substance abuse COMBINED with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, it’s necessary to find out if the treatment center is qualified to treat both.

Related Information

ADHD and Substance Abuse
Dual Diagnosis vs Co Occurring Disorders
What Are the Most Common Dual Diagnosis Disorders?


Hryb, Kathyrn; Kirkhart, Rob; Talbert, Rebecca. “A Call for Standardized Definition of Dual Diagnosis” Psychiatry (Edgmont), September 2007. Accessed June 26, 2019.

Khantzian, E.J. “The self-medication hypothesis of substance use disorders: a reconsideration and recent applications.” Harvard Review of Psychiatry, January 1997. Accessed June 22, 2019.

McGovern, M.P.; Lambert-Harris, C.; Acquilano, S.; Xie, H.; Alterman, A.I.; Weiss, R.D. “A cognitive behavioral therapy for co-occurring substance use and posttraumatic stress disorders.” Addictive Behaviors, October 2009. Accessed June 26, 2019.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” 2017. Accessed June 26, 2019.

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