Drug addicts have a long and arduous process for treating their addictions. What most people do not understand is that along with addiction treatment most addicts require treatment for other mental illnesses. Mental illness could be the cause and attributing factor in any addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has stated that over half the individuals who suffer from drug addiction also have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Whether the mental illness was the cause or the effect of addiction it can contribute to further and more severe addiction. The destructive interaction between addiction and mental illness is called co-morbidity. Most treatment centers have now acknowledged and implemented specialized programs to address the unique needs of dual-diagnosed individuals.

Intake and Assessment

The beginning of treatment will start with an assessment meeting between the addict and a counselor. They will prescribe a system of treatment that is unique to the addict, which will work to secure long-term sobriety. Roughly seven percent of dual-diagnosed individuals who seek treatment actually get treated for both issues; this according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. To fix this problem, most treatment centers will conduct an initial psychosocial assessment during the admission to the center. This consultation will help to create a specific program that is best suited to treat that individual addict. In this meet a professional will have a better understanding of any lingering mental health issues.


There are several programs that offer a medically assisted program. Suboxone programs work to maintain a level base or wean and addict off opiates, while dual-diagnosis treatment may use other prescription medications to treat issues of depression, anxiety, or stress. Throughout the entire treatment a psychiatrist will work diligently with a patient to properly medicate the mental illness.

Therapy and Counseling

Medication can be helpful in various situations, but it is understood that the best treatment does not include medications. The most common therapy method is cognitive behavioral therapy, which is used in group and individual therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is great in group and individual therapies, but it is also a powerful weapon against self-destructive behaviors. This therapy works to change their behavior by modifying their thought patterns. Another therapy method is the motivational interviewing, which is a collaborative effort between the patient and counselor. In this process the two set goals and reach obtainable stages of treatment. Addicts in treatment must gain a sense of personalized autonomy and this method helps them achieve goals and confidence.

Peer Support

The major mental health disorders of addicts are depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and stress. Peer support plays a critical role in dual-diagnosis treatment. Specialized group counseling sessions can help individuals overcome these feelings of depression, anxiety and other issues by learning and communicating with others who are battling the same issues. Group sessions can help recovering addicts gain a level of comfort and empathy among others. This can help improve their people skills and problem solving abilities.

Aftercare Planning

Aftercare planning is an important part of any addiction treatment program, but it is especially important for those suffering from dual-diagnosis problems. Individuals with dual diagnosis treatment must have a psychiatrist referral to continue receiving any medications for their mental health disorders. Dual diagnosis patients must have a specific, detailed aftercare program to ensure long-term sobriety.

These components of dual-diagnosis treatment are essential parts of treatment for those suffering from co-occurring mental health disorders. If treatment does not include psychological treatment the likelihood of relapse is incredibly high. Speaking with an addiction specialist with a background in dual-diagnosis treatment is recommended for anyone suffering from addiction.