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Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis is a term that is used when a patient is suffering from both a mental illness and substance abuse at the same time.  It can also be referred to as co-occurring disorders.  Either disorder–the mental illness or the substance abuse–can develop first, but together they can be difficult to treat because the methods and philosophies vary so much between the treatment protocols.

Dual diagnosis is common, with drug use found in nearly 1/3 of people suffering from a mental illness.  Many times people experiencing a mental health disorder turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication.  They do this to find relief from their symptoms.  However in almost every case, research indicates that alcohol and drugs intensify the symptoms of these illnesses, and can severely affect the patient’s quality of life.

According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) dual diagnosis is a very broad-reaching category.  It can range from developing a mild depression because of binge drinking, to severely exacerbating bipolar symptoms when a person abuses heroin during periods of mania.

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Recovery is possible. Joy and fulfillment and sobriety are all possible. With the help of the caring staff and
clinicians at Northern Arizona Center for Addiction, you can absolutely find a life beyond addiction.

Give Us a Call: 877-720-9595

Your Call is Confidential & Private.

What Are Some Symptoms Of Dual Diagnosis?

Some symptoms of someone suffering from a co-occurring disorder may include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Erratic behavior or frequent mood swings.
  • Using substances under dangerous conditions.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors when drunk or high.
  • Loss of control over use of substances.
  • Doing things you wouldn’t normally do to maintain your habit.
  • Developing tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Feeling like you need the drug to be able to function.


Symptoms can vary greatly from one individual to another, depending on the exact mental illness and what their drug of choice may have been. Northern Arizona Center for Addiction is fully prepared to handle dual diagnosis cases of every variety. With a talented and experienced team of therapists, clinicians, and support staff we can accurately diagnose and then separate and treat both the mental illness and the substance abuse. With the right treatment protocols, medication, therapy, day-to-day monitoring and reinforcement with positive feedback, our clients can make great progress as they heal and recover from both disorders.
If you or someone that you love is suffering from dual diagnosis disorders, please call us today or fill out our contact form and someone will contact you as soon as possible.

How is our Dual Diagnosis Program Different?

One thing that differentiates NACA from many other substance abuse treatment facilities is the way in which we determine and then treat an individual’s co-occurring disorder.  NACA employs pharmacogenomic testing, a process that gives our primary care staff an in-depth look at a client’s chemical makeup, all the way down to their DNA.  This allows our medical staff to have an accurate picture of exactly what factors are present, and determine what medications will have the best effects on an individual.

Pharmacogenomic testing is often done to determine how a person uniquely metabolizes medication.  In this way we can target treatment protocols to work with the patient’s own genetics.  This takes the guess work out of what medications will work, and leads to much earlier symptom relief and control. Studies have consistently shown the usefulness of such testing, not only for earlier symptom relief, but for reducing medical costs with targeted therapies rather than trial-and-error.

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