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Dual Diagnosis

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Turning Point of Tampa has helped thousands find recovery. As an in-network facility, we are able and committed to helping you find the life you deserve.

Dual Diagnosis

For many of our clients, substance use disorders or disorders related to eating can also be deeply intertwined with a dual diagnosis (also referred to as a “comorbidity” or “co-occurring disorder”). This means a substance use disorder that occurs at the same time as another mental illness (or multiple mental health conditions). At Turning Point of Tampa, we address dual diagnosis issues. Individuals are treated simultaneously for substance abuse and mental health issues that often factor into their drug abuse or alcohol abuse.

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What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis, as described by the American Psychiatric Association, is the presence of two co-occurring disorders that are present in the same person at the same time. For example, depression (or another mental illness) can exist alongside one or more substance use disorders (e.g., alcohol or drug dependence). A person who struggles with a mental illness as well as a drug abuse disorder simultaneously qualifies for a dual diagnosis and will benefit from dual diagnosis treatment.

How prevalent are dual diagnoses?


According to a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) report on key substance use and mental health indicators, approximately 7.9 million adults in the United States had a dual/co-occurring disorder in 2014. If your drug abuse exists in addition to a mental illness, treatment programs offered at Turning Point of Tampa are designed specifically for you.

NIDA Study

According to a national survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), nearly 8.4 million adults in the US have both a mental health condition and a substance use disorder, according to the 2012 NSDUH. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has also found that drug or alcohol addiction, when paired with co-occurring disorders, worsens the common risk factors for criminal justice involvement and other negative outcomes.

What does it mean to receive a dual diagnosis?

If you are given a dual diagnosis by a mental health professional, it means you are suffering from both a substance use disorder and another type of mental disorder or mental illness. The mental health issue could include depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress, ADD or ADHD, or any number of other mental health or psychiatric disorders.

Are people with mental illness more likely to suffer from substance abuse disorders?

The simple answer is yes. People with a mental health disorder are much more likely to experience a substance use disorder and people with a substance use disorder are much more likely to have a mental health disorder. About 45% of Americans seeking substance use disorder treatment have been diagnosed as having a co-occurring mental and substance use disorder. This means that dual diagnosis care is an increasing need for Americans seeking treatment for mental illness and issues with substance use.

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 the symptoms of the mental health condition or the substance use disorder may vary in severity.

Single-diagnosis clinicians overlook dual diagnosis patients

People often receive treatment for substance use disorders while other mental illness remains untreated. Clinicians may miss other mental health disorders in clients they see for substance abuse because the symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse often overlap with those of other mental health problems.

The consequences of an undiagnosed or under-treated co-occurring disorder can be dangerous, if not fatal. An integrated treatment model is best for helping clients whose addictive disorders simultaneously present with mental illnesses.

Screening tools now make it easier for mental health clinics to identify co-occurring substance abuse problems and make a dual diagnosis when necessary. But clinics that focus on mental illnesses may miss substance use disorders and thus fail to provide dual diagnosis treatment.

Behavioral therapy for mental illness is effective, but if it fails to address a co-occurring disorder with drug use or alcohol use, it has less likelihood of being effective. Turning Point of Tampa is equipped to identify indicators for substance use disorders that exist alongside co-occurring disorders.

What are the signs and symptoms of a dual diagnosis disorder?

Signs and symptoms exhibited depend on the co-occurring disorders in question. Symptoms include those found with a drug or alcohol use disorder as well as those that are indicative of a specific mental health disorder, and the co-occurring mental disorders may compound one another.

Signs of substance use disorder may include:

  • Risky behavior (such as risky driving, gambling, or unsafe sex)

  • Abrupt personality changes or changes in behavior

  • Social isolation

  • Cravings for drug or alcohol use

  • Build-up of tolerance so more is needed to achieve the desired effect

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if substance is not used

Signs of a mental health disorder vary depending upon the disorder, but examples may include:

  • Confusion

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Eating and/or sleep problems

  • Changes in sex drive

  • Unexplained physical pain

  • Extreme mood changes

  • Social isolation (drawing away from friends, family, or other sources of emotional support).

Some severe symptoms need immediate attention, including delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, or talk of suicide. Individuals with these symptoms need immediate attention from a qualified mental health professional.

How Co-Occurring Disorders Worsen One Another

Substance abuse and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety are closely linked, although one does not necessarily directly cause the other. 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 co-occurring disorders can worsen both. You may use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate or relieve the pain and stress associated with your mental health condition. Self-medication describes the use of substances to treat symptoms of mental illness, whether the substances are prescription or illicit drugs.

Drug use, such as marijuana or methamphetamine use, can cause prolonged psychotic reactions and exacerbate co-occurring psychotic disorders.

Mental Health Effects of Marijuana

For a person suffering from a mental disorder, marijuana can be seriously problematic. Studies published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) found links between early marijuana use and schizophrenia. Mental Health America has also published data showing that people with psychotic disorders who use marijuana experience more extreme symptoms later in life.

Mental Illness and Alcohol

The National Institute of Health has also found that alcohol abuse can cause depression and anxiety symptoms to worsen. As a depressant substance, alcohol abuse worsens symptoms of depression and can make people more prone to suicidal ideation.

Where to Find Help

By seeking a dual diagnosis licensed provider, you can find someone to guide you through therapeutic treatments and prescribe medication if necessary. You can address your substance addiction and mental health problem simultaneously with the same treatment provider.

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What mental health disorders are considered in dual diagnosis?

Any mental illness can qualify a person for dual diagnosis, but these are some of the most common:

Mood Disorders

Major Depressive Disorders/Episode

Major depressive disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment to daily life.

Dysthymia Disorder

Dysthymia is characterized by a low mood occurring for more than two years, along with at least two other symptoms of depression.

Symptoms include lost interest in normal activities, low energy, low self-esteem, hopelessness, sleep changes, low appetite, and poor concentration.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar I disorder also known as manic depression or a manic-depressive disorder) is a serious mental health issue.

People with Bipolar I experience at least one manic episode in your life. A manic episode is a period of abnormally irritable or elevated mood and high energy, accompanied by abnormal behavior that disrupts your life.

Bipolar II

Bipolar II disorder is a closely related psychiatric disorder. Bipolar II disorder has the “up” moods that never reach full-blown mania. The less-intense elevated moods in bipolar II disorder are called hypomanic episodes, or hypomania.

Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) is marked by exaggerated or excessive worry and anxiety about everyday life events for no apparent or obvious reason.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

A disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering after witnessing or experiencing a terrifying event. PTSD symptoms are typically grouped by four types: negative changes in thinking or mood, avoidance, intrusive memories, and changes in emotional and physical reactions.

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Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is characterized by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks that do not have a reasonable cause and can create great psychological and physical discomfort.

Panic attacks

Panic attacks are sudden, short, and discrete feelings of dread or fear that may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, trembling or shaking, feeling dizzy, heart palpitations, hot flashes, or cold chills, sweating, shortness of breath, numbness or tingling sensations, and other somatic (body) symptoms.

Other Mental Health Disorders

Although there are other mental health conditions that may affect the chemically dependent person, 50% or more of the dual diagnoses fall in the mood and/or anxiety category. There are other mental illnesses that you may suffer from in combination with a substance abuse problem.

What is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the handbook used by health care professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. DSM contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders.

Levels of Care

At Turning Point of Tampa we offer a comprehensive continuum of care, including primary and extended care programs, intensive outpatient and weekly aftercare groups.

The Best Treatment is at Turning Point of Tampa

Finding the right treatment program for a co-occurring mental health issue and substance abuse problem can be difficult. Turning Point of Tampa is a substance abuse treatment center committed to providing high quality, 12-Step based addiction and eating disorder treatment programs that are affordable and effective. We strive to continually evaluate industry research, as well as our own data, so we can improve on and develop the most effective programs available today.

Our treatment programs specialize in treating Addiction, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis. We are accredited by the Joint Commission and are a licensed provider of detoxification, residential, PHP and IOP programs.

We strive to create a “life-like” environment, focusing on recovery through responsibility. To date, we have carried the message of long-term recovery to thousands of clients.

The Best Treatment is at Turning Point of Tampa

Some of our specific treatments for drugs and/or alcohol include equine therapy, motivational interviewing, reality therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, accelerated resolution therapy, trauma therapy, and group therapy.

Turning Point of Tampa can also connect you with emotional and social support groups. These support groups include other people who have struggled with substance abuse and the urge to self-medicate. They can provide unique experience to help you follow your treatment program and avoid a relapse.

If you know someone who is dually diagnosed and needs a safe environment and help, please contact us at (866) 878-6869 or email us at