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What Are the Most Common Dual Diagnosis Disorders?

Because they are so prevalent, many people wonder, what are the most common dual diagnosis disorders?

It’s quite common for people addicted to drugs or alcohol to have a co-occurring or dual diagnosis disorder. This condition is present when a person has a substance use addiction AND a mental health condition together at the same time.

Most Common Dual Diagnosis DisordersMany addiction treatment centers will refuse to work with dual diagnosis patients because they don’t have medical doctors or psychiatrists on staff to deal with the mental health side of the illness.

Because each patient is different and dual diagnosis disorders create additional things to work on in therapy, it’s crucial that each patient receives one on one treatment instead of a one-size fits all approach.

Regardless of whether the mental illness is driving the addiction or the other way around, BOTH will need to be addressed for treatment to be successful and have a lasting impact on recovery.

What Are Common Dual Diagnosis Disorder Examples?

Listed below are eight of the most common dual diagnosis disorders for mental health that are present as a dual disorder when combined with a drug or alcohol abuse problem.

The infographic below shows 8 of the most common conditions or disorders found in dual diagnosis patients as well as the symptoms and commonly abused substances for each disorder.

It’s interesting that alcohol shows up as one of the most common substances used with co-occurring disorders. Alcohol is legal, widely available without a prescription, and acts as a depressant, so it’s no surprise that alcohol abuse is a popular way of dealing with the stress of a mental illness.

Common Dual Diagnosis Disorders

To view this infographic in more detail visit Cool Infographics.

Which Came First in Common Dual Diagnosis Disorders?

It’s often difficult to determine which condition appears first in the most common dual disorders because each person is different with unique circumstances that led up to their addiction or mental health condition.

Many treatment centers will see a large number of clients that are seeking help for an alcohol addiction but they have also been diagnosed with depression.

Quite often they started drinking to help overcome the symptoms of depression. And it helped, for a while, but then they increased drinking because it stopped quieting the depression symptoms. This led to an addiction to alcohol as well as the originating issue of only depression.

Others may have been a long-term drinker that became depressed because they acquired an alcohol dependence. Alcohol is a known depressant, and too much of it at once, or relying on it for a long period of time will greatly exacerbate depression.

Either way, treatment needs to address both the addiction and the depression at the same time.

This is the essence of dual diagnosis treatment.

Challenges of Treating Dual Diagnosis Disorders

A dual disorder condition becomes even more challenging to treat when there is an overlap of multiple mental health issues or polysubstance abuse involving a variety of drugs instead of just one like alcohol.

If the patient only has signs of depression, that condition can be addressed more easily than if the same person is also struggling with depression and PTSD or panic disorder at the same time. This compounds treatment since both of those conditions need to be identified and treated, along with the substance use addiction.

For others, they might only have a single mental illness like bipolar disorder, although they are addicted to alcohol and opioids. The treatment protocol can be different for each of the substances because they affect distinct and separate regions of the brain.

When considering the most common dual diagnosis disorders, it’s also necessary to diagnose all possible combinations of mental health and addiction. They can really add up to a lot going on for each person.

Seeking Treatment

When considering everything mentioned here, it’s crucial for treatment centers to offer an individualized approach for each patient that targets their specific circumstances and needs for recovery to be successful.

A one-size fits all approach rarely works well for the most common dual diagnosis disorders or co-occurring conditions.

The good news is, addiction treatment centers that specialize in dual diagnosis disorders have the experience and staff needed to get to the root of all issues present and effectively work with patients to overcome them.

For anyone concerned they may have a problem, seeking treatment early instead of waiting or trying to go it alone offers the best chance for a successful recovery.

There’s no shame in asking for help and it’s worth it to find the relief to live a happy and healthy life.


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