Dual Diagnosis

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Dual Diagnosis

Substance abuse and mental health are closely interlinked. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, upwards of 9.5 million American adults experienced a dual diagnosis disorder. The National Library of Medicine states, “About half of people who have a mental disorder will also have a substance use disorder at some point in their lives and vice versa. The interactions of the two conditions can worsen both.”

Despite the fact that substance abuse and mental health issues often appear simultaneously, it can be difficult to determine which occurred first – which is why comprehensive treatment in a dual diagnosis treatment center is essential.

There are several reasons why co-occurring disorder develop:

  • The risk factors that lead to substance abuse also frequently lead to mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. These risk factors might include genetic predisposition, unresolved trauma, environmental factors or consistently high stress levels.
  • Prolonged substance abuse can sometimes lead to the development of mental health conditions. When the brain is repeatedly exposed to chemical substances neurological changes are liable to occur. For example, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to the development of depression over time, seeing as alcohol itself is a depressive drug that has the ability to alter brain chemistry.
  • Many individuals who suffer from undiagnosed or untreated mental health conditions turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of self-medication. They attempt to self-treat psychological symptoms by numbing them out with chemical substances, which actually has the opposite effect and worsens the symptoms over time.

If you or someone you love has been struggling with substance abuse and mental illness, Guardian Recovery is available to help. Our program of recovery tackles all existing conditions simultaneously, helping clients maintain recovery for years to come. Our dedicated and compassionate team of professionals have combined decades of experience in the fields of substance abuse and mental health and have developed a comprehensive and highly individualized recovery program.

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Common Dual Diagnosis Disorders

At Guardian Recovery we treat a variety of dual diagnosis disorders including:

  • Anxiety DisordersThe National Library of Medicine reports that anxiety and substance abuse are among the most common co-occurring disorders throughout the United States. 28.8% of all American adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point during their lives, and 14.6% experience a diagnosable substance use disorder. Some of the more common anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, specific phobias and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). At Guardian Recovery we are well-versed in treating anxiety disorders of all types and severities.
  • DepressionIt is estimated that roughly one-third of all individuals who suffer from substance abuse or dependence also suffer from a depressive disorder. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 16.5% of men and women who suffer from Major Depressive Disorder simultaneously struggle with alcoholism, and 18% struggle with drug abuse. At Guardian Recovery we treat a variety of depressive disorders including Major Depressive Disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Depression, Postpartum Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder and Atypical Depression.

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  • Bipolar DisorderBipolar disorder is less common than anxiety disorders and depression, though our team of experienced dual diagnosis counselors has extensive experience treating this mental illness as well. According to the National Library of Medicine, men and women who have been officially diagnosed with Bipolar I have a 58% prevalence of co-occurring alcohol abuse disorders and a 38% prevalence of drug abuse disorders. Bipolar disorder is characterized by manic and depressive phases (alternating) that can last for weeks or months.
  • SchizophreniaThis mental health condition can be severely disruptive to the life of the afflicted, and is characterized by an inability to communicate effectively or function adequately, and thoughts or experiences that are disconnected from reality.
  • Borderline Personality DisorderPeople who struggle with undiagnosed or untreated borderline personality disorder experience intense mood swings, erratic behavioral patterns and an inability to maintain close interpersonal relationships.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderWhile PTSD is considered an anxiety disorder, it generally stems from unresolved trauma rather than a pre-existing mental health condition. According to the National Center for PTSD, 46.4% of individuals with PTSD also met the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder. In another national study, 27.9% of women and 51.9% of men with PTSD also had a substance abuse disorder of some severity.

The Dual Diagnosis Services We Provide

Dual diagnosis services we provide include:

  • Psychiatric assessments upon admission to each level of clinical care we provide
  • One-on-one sessions with an on-staff psychiatrist
  • The prescription of antipsychotic medications as needed, as well as medication management services
  • Informational workshops that explore the connection between substance abuse and mental health – both for our clients and for their loved ones
  • A focus on the development of crucial life skills and healthy coping mechanisms
  • Relapse prevention training that applies to both mental health concerns and substance abuse and dependence

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Treatment Options for Dual Diagnosis Disorders

The most effective option for dual diagnosis disorders is integrated intervention, where the substance abuse disorder and the mental illness are addressed simultaneously in the same treatment facility. At Guardian Recovery we provide addiction and all underlying conditions at the same time, focusing on the ways in which one condition impacts and exacerbates the other.

Below are common elements of our dual diagnosis treatment:

  • Medically monitored detox: Detoxification is a necessary first step for anyone who has been suffering from substance abuse or dependence. In inpatient detox clients undergo a safe and pain-free drug and/or alcohol withdrawal in a structured and closely monitored environment. In most instances medical detox lasts for between one and two weeks – the duration depends heavily on the severity of the substance abuse disorder and whether or not any underlying conditions are present.
  • In-depth clinical, medical and psychiatric assessments: It is important that men and women who have been struggling with a co-occurring disorder undergo a detailed and personalized assessment at the time of program admission. This helps the clinical team determine which dual diagnosis treatment options are going to be the most beneficial for each unique case.
  • Inpatient or residential rehabilitation: While intensive outpatient treatment or outpatient treatment might prove to be effective stand-alone options for those with a mild substance abuse disorder, inpatient treatment is always necessary in the case of co-occurring disorders. Clients undergo intensive therapy seven days a week in a structured and supportive environment. Inpatient treatment generally lasts for three months.
  • Intensive psychotherapy: Psychotherapy is an essential component of every dual diagnosis treatment plan. At Guardian Recovery we utilize a range of evidence-based methodologies including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
  • Medication assisted treatment (MAT): Medications like antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are an important part of most dual diagnosis treatment plans.
  • Community-based support groups: At Guardian Recovery we emphasize the importance of building a sober support network
  • A transition into a supportive housing environment: At Guardian Recovery we ensure that each of our clients has a comprehensive aftercare plan in place, which often includes a transition into a reputable sober living home.

Begin Your Personal Recovery of Journey

At Guardian Recovery we offer comprehensive and highly specialized clinical services geared towards helping men and women of all ages and all walks of life overcome substance abuse and mental illness long-term. To learn more about our dual diagnosis program, to begin your personal journey of healing, or to help your loved one get started, contact us today.

Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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