Dual Diagnosis Treatment in California

Overcoming an addiction is never easy. Therefore, treatment often gets complicated. Sometimes, a person may suffer from substance misuse issues along with a mental illness. When this occurs, it’s essential to work with a facility that is prepared to deliver individualized treatment. At The Key to Recovery, we are one of the top dual diagnosis treatment centers in California because of the combination of evidence-based treatment programs combined with holistic therapies. Through these methods, we help clients address their underlying issues and provide the power to heal in the long term.

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis describes the situation where an individual experiences both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at the same time. Besides strictly addressing addiction to drugs or alcohol, a facility must also provide treatment for underlying psychological problems. In reality, it’s impossible to achieve long-term sobriety without identifying all issues and providing a way to deal with them in a healthy manner.

Commonly, dual diagnosis is also referred to as a co-occurring disorder. This means that multiple problems exist simultaneously that cannot be treated alone.

Why Does Mental Illness Often Co-Occur with Addiction?

Dual Diagnosis TreatmentEven though a substance use disorder and a mental illness often occur together, one doesn’t always cause the other. In fact, it can be challenging to uncover which one started first. However, there are certain reasons why they may occur at the same time:

  • Risk Factors – Certain risk factors contribute to both mental health disorders and substance misuse problems. These include stress, trauma, and genetics.
  • A Mental Health Disorder Can Result from Substance Abuse – When a person uses drugs, it changes the way that the brain functions. This can lead a person to develop a mental health issue.
  • Substance Abuse Can Result from a Mental Health Disorder – When a person has a mental health disorder, it often brings about negative side effects. For this reason, drugs or alcohol are used to make this person feel better. To make matters worse, mental health problems can make the brain more likely to succumb to addiction.

Evidence suggests genetics, exposure to trauma, or brain deficits may be linked to a heightened risk for developing substance use problems and mental health disorders. For instance, veterans who return from war often have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression along with a drug use disorder. Studies show that approximately half of veterans with PTSD deal with dual diagnoses.

Why Choose Dual Diagnosis Treatment in California?

In the past, mental illness and addiction were treated separately. For example, anxiety attacks, depression, and other mental illnesses were treated on a different plane from drug addiction. When conditions occurred together, many people were denied mental health treatment until they were sober. On the downside, substance abuse is often fueled by an unknown psychotic disorder.

Co-occurring disorders can be challenging to diagnose. Indeed, substance abuse symptoms often mask mental illness. Also, symptoms of a mental disorder may be confused with addiction symptoms. However, after a positive diagnosis is made, both problems must be treated together. Treating only one will not cause the other to disappear. For this reason, an effective plan for dual diagnosis treatment in California must include integrated care.

Medications Used in Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers in California

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 20% of adults in the United States have mental health problems. In fact, mental illness negatively affects a person’s mood and can disrupt normal daily activities. As a result, the American Psychiatric Association classifies substance use disorders as mental health disorders. Treatment for dual diagnosis may include several possible medications.


When a person suffers from schizophrenia, antipsychotics may be used to decrease agitation and delusions. However, they can cause drowsiness, rapid heartbeat, and other negative side effects, which is why medical supervision is incredibly important. 


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 10% of adults take antidepressants. In fact, this type of drug may help a person who suffers from anxiety or depression. In many instances, people turn to alcohol and drugs to numb feelings of depression. However, taking medicine to balance the brain’s neurotransmitters may help to eliminate dependency.

Anti-Anxiety Drugs

Anti-anxiety medication can help people who suffer from panic attacks or PTSD. When stress levels are controlled, a person will not turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with the symptoms of the mental disorder.

Mood Stabilizers

When a person suffers from depression or bipolar disorder, it’s common for mood stabilizers to be used. However, these types of drugs must be monitored regularly. For instance, Depakote is just one kind of mood stabilizer that works well for individuals who suffer from dual diagnoses.

Detox Medications

During initial substance abuse treatment, a client must become physically stable before it is possible to enjoy sobriety in the long term. It is especially important for a person who has received a dual diagnosis. Throughout the detox process, a person’s body is purged of toxins. Of course, withdrawal symptoms may be severe. Therefore, it may be necessary to use medication to quell the symptoms of withdrawal. Our facility is one of the dual diagnosis treatment centers in California that performs detox with constant medical supervision.

Medication can greatly help with the treatment of a dual diagnosis. However, the most successful treatment plans involve medicine and psychotherapy. Combining the two raises the likelihood that a client will have the strongest foundation for long-term recovery.

Mental Health Disorders that Commonly Co-Occur with Addiction

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers in CaliforniaCertain medical disorders commonly occur at the same time as addiction:

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a neurological condition that makes it difficult to pay attention, sit still, or control behavior. In fact, individuals with this disorder may use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for the symptoms that are present with ADHD. Other people may use stimulants as treatments. However, they often become hooked. This leads to a cycle of addiction.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder causes an unusual shift in mood, activity, and concentration. In fact, symptoms of this disorder are alarming, which makes individuals turn to drugs and alcohol for comfort and mood stabilization. Unfortunately, drinking or taking drugs has the opposite effect. In reality, bipolar disorder symptoms become worse.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders cause individuals to have different thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from “cultural norms.” Hence, it leads to stress and problems functioning day-to-day. Individuals with personality disorders may relieve emotional distress by drinking or using drugs in excess. For instance, a person with an avoidance personality disorder may misuse chemical substances to bury feelings of social ineptitude.


Depression is a mood disorder that makes a person feel uncontrollably sad to the point of abusing drugs. They may use drugs and alcohol to feel some form of relief. Unfortunately, this only works for a short period of time and makes symptoms worse.

Anxiety Disorders

Definitively, anxiety and substance use disorders are among the most frequent psychiatric health problems in this country. To ease feelings of fear, it’s common for a person to use alcohol or drugs. Also, most prescription medicines that treat these types of disorders are highly addictive and can lead to worse problems.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by different compulsions. For instance, a person may have an intense fear of germs, may obsess about symmetry, or may become agitated when things are not completely spotless. Ultimately, people with OCD often turn to drugs or alcohol to lower angst.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder commonly stems from abuse during childhood, combat, or trauma from an accident. A person experiences stress that comes from a certain event that reminds him or her of previous trauma. As a result, this person may turn to drugs or alcohol.

Therapies at Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers in California

Dual diagnosis requires therapy to target the problems of mental illness and substance abuse. After finishing detox, a client can partake in a number of therapies.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

In essence, cognitive-behavioral therapy concentrates on the link between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Therapists work through negative ideas that are associated with a person’s substance abuse disorder. After therapy, a person understands triggers that cause negative behavior. In the end, a client develops better ways of coping so that sobriety is possible.

Family Therapy

Many dual diagnosis treatment centers in California provide family therapy. Addiction affects more than the person who is using drugs or alcohol. Loved ones need an outlet to discuss their feelings as well. Therapists help family members understand the need for support and the role that they need to play in recovery. Also, family therapy offers a chance to rebuild relationships and increases communication.

Group Therapy

Key to Recovery Offers Dual Diagnosis Treatment in CaliforniaGroup therapy helps a client realize that they are not alone in their recovery journey. In fact, sharing challenges with others and discussing problems in a supportive environment helps everyone feel safe and secure. It’s a successful way of helping clients advance onto the road of recovery.

Experiential Therapy

This therapy helps clients experience emotions and focus on things that cause anxiety. It utilizes activities like guided imagery, role-playing, and other ways to reenact situations that bring negative feelings. Once a person explores these negative feelings as they relate to past occurrences, it’s possible to heal and to find ways to cope.

The Key to Recovery Offers Dual Diagnosis Treatment in California

At The Key to Recovery, we understand how challenging it can be to deal with dual diagnosis treatment in California. Sobriety is an ongoing process that requires perseverance. To repeat, our team is dedicated to helping clients heal and continue on the right path. 

To demonstrate, we offer a wide variety of services, including detox, individualized programs, and treatment for dual diagnosis. In fact, we know that asking for help may seem embarrassing. However, it’s an empowering step that can help a person uncover the root of his or her problems that lead to substance abuse. If a person has an ongoing mental illness, the process is even more difficult.

Luckily, our staff of medical professionals is ready to offer support and guidance. Throughout treatment, our goal is to help a person manage his or her mental illness and to help with addiction. We offer a wide range of therapies so that a person can learn coping mechanisms that keep him or her on a healthy path. To get started on the road to recovery, contact us today.