Dual Diagnosis

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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 these circumstances and treat the individual.

Dual Diagnosis Group Therapy | Turning Point of Tampa

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the identification of two distinct disorders that are present in the same person at the same time, for example, the coexistence of depression and a substance dependence disorder (e.g., alcohol or drug dependence).

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.

But what does it mean to be dually diagnosed?

The term “dual diagnosis” indicates someone is suffering 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.

Are people with a mental health disorder more likely to suffer from drug or alcohol addiction?

People with a mental health disorder are more likely to experience a substance use disorder and people with a substance use disorder are more likely to have a mental health 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.

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 health disorders 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 under-treated co-occurring disorder can be dangerous, if not fatal.

What are the signs and symptoms of dual diagnosis?

Signs and symptoms exhibited depend on the co-occurring disorders themselves. Symptoms will include those often found with a drug or alcohol use disorder as well as those that are indicative of a specific mental health disorder. Drug and alcohol screening tools now make it easier for mental health clinics to identify co-occurring substance abuse problems.

Signs of substance use disorder may include:

  • Risky behavior (such as risky driving or swimming, unsafe sex)
  • Abrupt personality changes or changes in behavior
  • Socially isolating self from family, friends, and favorite activities
  • Unable to control drug or alcohol use
  • Craving substance
  • Financial or legal problems
  • 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
  • Inability to function in daily life
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Unexplained physical pain
  • Exaggerated expressions of sadness, fear, worry, or anger
  • Fluctuating mood, bouncing between highs and lows
  • Social isolation (drawing away from friends, family, favorite activities)

Severe symptoms may include delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, or talk of suicide. Individuals with any of these symptoms need immediate attention from a qualified mental health professional.

What mental health disorders are considered in a dual diagnosis?

Substance abuse and a mental health disorder (dual diagnosis) 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.

According to 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 interactions of the two conditions can worsen both. You may use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate or relieve the pain and stress associated with your mental health condition.

Abusing substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine can cause prolonged psychotic reactions, while alcohol abuse can make depression and anxiety symptoms worse.

If you are diagnosed with a dual diagnosis, there is help available. By finding the right treatment program, you can become free from drugs or alcohol and resolve many of your health issues.

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Mood Disorders

Major Depressive Disorders/Episode

Major depressive disorders or episodes are a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment to your daily life. Often accompanying the loss of interest is a feeling of sadness or depression that may require you seeking treatment that is long-term.

Dysthymia Disorder

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

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

Bipolar 2

Bipolar I disorder (pronounced “bipolar one” and known as manic depression or a manic-depressive disorder) is a form of a mental health issue.

If you have bipolar 1 you will 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 2

Bipolar II disorder (also called “bipolar two”) is a form of a 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.

Bipolar Disorder | Turning Point of Tampa

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Join us for conversations with advocates, experts and people in long term recovery as we work to end the stigma that has long plagued addiction & mental health. We are passionate about recovery and are excited to share our experience, strength & hope with you.

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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. Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and you cannot stop worrying about money, work, family, health, or school.

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.

Panic Disorder with and without Agoraphobia

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

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 or lighthearted, heart palpitations, hot flashes, or cold chills, sweating, shortness of breath, numbness or tingling sensations, chest pain, choking sensations, abdominal distress, and feelings of derealization and depersonalization.

**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.

Mental Health | Turning Point of Tampa

The Best Treatment is at Turning Point of Tampa

At Turning Point of Tampa we are a substance abuse treatment provider committed to providing high quality, 12-Step based addiction and eating disorder programs that are affordable and effective. We strive to continually evaluate industry research, as well as our own data, so we can improve 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 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 over 14,000 clients.

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

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

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association:


National Alliance on Mental Illness:


National Institute on Drug Abuse:


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 admissions@tpoftampa.com.

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.