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Dual Diagnosis

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

For many of our clients a dependency on drugs, alcohol or an eating disorder can also be deeply intertwined with a dual diagnosis (also referred to as a “comorbidity” or “co-occurring” diagnosis). At Turning Point of Tampa, we address all of these circumstances and treat the individual as a whole.

But what does it mean to be dually diagnosed?

The term “dual diagnosis” describes someone who suffers from both a substance use disorder and another type of psychiatric/mental illness. This condition could include depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress, ADD or ADHD, or any number of other mental health or behavioral issues. According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), approximately 7.9 million adults in the United States had a dual/co-occurring disorder in 2014. Also, people with a mental disorder are more likely to experience a substance use disorder and people with a substance use disorder are more likely to have a mental disorder when compared with the general population. About 45% of Americans seeking substance use disorder treatment have been diagnosed as having a co-occurring mental and substance use disorder.

It is clear that people with mental health disorders are more likely than people without mental health disorders to experience an alcohol or substance use disorder. A dual diagnosis can be difficult to diagnose due to the complexity of symptoms, as both may vary in severity. We have found, in many cases, people receive treatment for one disorder while the other disorder remains untreated. This may occur because both mental and substance use disorders can have biological, psychological, and social components. Other reasons may be an overlap of symptoms, or other health issues that needed to be addressed first. In any case, the consequences of undiagnosed, untreated, or an undertreated co-occurring disorder can dangerous, if not fatal.

What are common dual diagnoses of the chemically dependent and/or eating disordered person?

Mood Disorders

  1. Major Depressive Disorders/Episode
  2. Dysthymia Disorder
  3. Bipolar 1
  4. Bipolar 2

Anxiety Disorders

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  2. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  3. Panic Disorder with and without Agoraphobia

**Although there are other mental disorders that may affect the chemically dependent person, 50% or more of the dual diagnoses fall in the mood and/or anxiety category.

How does Turning Point of Tampa treat dual diagnoses?

Turning Point of Tampa believes that people with dual diagnoses/co-occurring disorders are best served through “integrated treatment.” Integrated treatment addresses the mental and substance use disorders at the same time, which in turn creates better outcomes. We find that this integrated approach to a dual diagnosis is vital in improving the quality of our clients’ lives and well-being.

Here are some links for further education, explanation and support:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association:

If you know someone who is dually diagnosed and needs help, please contact us at (800) 397-3006 or email us at

dual diagnosis group therapy session with men speaking