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Dual Diagnosis

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a man participates in dual diagnosis treatment in san francisco Addiction can be challenging enough to deal with on its own, but when accompanied by co-occurring mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, it can feel next to impossible to manage. Enrolling in a dual diagnosis treatment program gives you access to the appropriate medications and addiction therapy services to simultaneously treat mental health and addiction. To learn more about managing dual diagnosis in San Francisco, contact Foundations San Francisco at 415.854.6735 or online today.

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis refers to having an addiction along with a mental health condition. A person may have an untreated mental health condition that leads to self-medication with drugs or alcohol or experimenting with substances that exacerbate or trigger a mental health disorder. Some mental health conditions that frequently occur with addiction are:

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Dual diagnosis is fairly common since people struggling with mental health often use drugs or alcohol to manage their symptoms. Substance misuse can also mask the symptoms of mental health disorders, making it difficult for a person or their loved ones to recognize that there is more going on than the addiction itself.

How Is Dual Diagnosis Treated?

Before developing dual diagnosis treatment approaches, mental health and addiction were treated separately. This often produces lackluster results and incomplete recovery for patients struggling with these co-occurring conditions. Today, dual diagnosis programs that integrate treatment modalities for addiction and mental health conditions provide much better outcomes.

The key components of dual diagnosis treatment include:

Thorough Assessment

Dual diagnosis begins with a comprehensive assessment by professionals specializing in mental health and addiction. By collecting a health history and conducting a physical examination, treatment providers can identify the specific mental health disorder and the severity of the addiction.

Integrated Treatment Plan

The intake assessment provides the information the care team needs to develop a personalized treatment plan. This can include specific medications, psychotherapies, and support groups.

Behavioral Therapies

There are a vast number of behavioral therapies utilized in dual diagnosis treatments. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are the most commonly used. If a person has experienced trauma, they may also receive trauma therapy or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR).

Support Groups

Support from peers who share similar experiences can be invaluable in the recovery journey. Dual diagnosis support groups offer a space for individuals to connect, share their struggles, and acquire coping strategies.


A dual diagnosis treatment program is especially critical when it comes to selecting the appropriate medications. For example, addiction recovery medications designed to replace opioids or alcohol interact with brain receptors that may ameliorate mood swings caused by withdrawal. However, for someone who had existing anxiety or depressive disorders before substance misuse, specific anxiety medications or antidepressants may be necessary for long-term treatment.

Do You Need Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Dual diagnoses are common, but just because you have an addiction does not mean you also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. So, how do you know if you need dual diagnosis treatment? Here are a few signs that may indicate a dual diagnosis:

  • You have overwhelming anxiety or depression when not using drugs or alcohol.
  • You have been experiencing extreme changes in your mood.
  • You often reach for drugs or alcohol to feel better.
  • You have difficulty concentrating.
  • You have a family history of mental illness or addiction.

Seeking addiction treatment that does not include a dual diagnosis regimen can leave you dealing with ongoing mental health symptoms, so it is essential that you receive a thorough evaluation of your symptoms and substance use history.

Find Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Foundations San Francisco

If you think you need treatment for dual diagnosis in San Francisco, getting a proper diagnosis is important. Reach out to Foundations San Francisco at 415.854.6735 or via our online contact form to schedule an intake assessment.