Dual Diagnosis Treatment

At Nexus, we recognize that drug and alcohol addiction and substance use disorders are commonly associated with underlying or untreated mental health disorders. Anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, trauma, ADHD, and other psychiatric disorders frequently coincide with an individual’s substance abuse. These co-occurring disorders may have developed as a result of drug and alcohol use, or may have been a factor in why an individual began using in the first place. Regardless of when the disorder manifests, it’s crucial that they be addressed during substance abuse treatment in order to give clients the best chance at recovery. Otherwise, clients risk returning to their communities without tools to deal with any underlying mental health disorders, and may find themselves turning to drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate.


Since drug and alcohol addiction is a chronic brain disease, individuals are more likely to see long-term success if they participate in a treatment program designed by medical and mental health professionals. At Nexus, we coordinate with physicians and therapists who perform a thorough assessment of new clients in order to determine if any underlying mental health disorders are present. If there is any co-occurring disorder, we coordinate with the appropriate professionals to ensure it is treated with the same level of care and expertise as an individual’s addiction.

Some of the modalities used in dual diagnosis treatment include:

Individualized Care

At Nexus, treatment for every client will be customized to meet his or her individual needs. By tailoring treatment to the individual, we give our clients the best chance of success as they transition back into their families and communities.

In addition to the initial assessment, we coordinate care to ensure clients continue to be monitored by mental health professionals throughout their stay. If a mental health disorder becomes apparent once an individual has time away from drugs or alcohol, our treatment team is able to address it immediately.

If you are considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today.

Alumni & Family Testimonials

"I will forever be grateful for Nexus and the amazing staff working here. They welcomed me with open arms and have helped me every step of the way... I have been to a lot of treatment centers and IOP programs and this is the best one I have ever been to. They have saved my life. The therapists and clinical staff are beautiful people that care for each individual that walks through their doors."

Wes P.

"Truly grateful for my Nexus family. I wouldn't be where I am today without these wonderful people. I wish I could give more than 5 Stars on this review. Thank you for showing me the way to a happy and more meaningful life."

Shane M.

"I have great respect for Nexus Recovery and its associated leadership. I believe in their mission to provide ethical treatment and attention to clinical detail. I have seen many lives come in the door broken and exit with purpose, I am one of them."

Matthew R.

"If you are like me, you have been tirelessly researching online or calling various sober living facilities - feeling heartbroken, lost, desperate, and confused - all while facing a decision which would directly impact the livelihood of a loved one. No pressure, right? My husband had just completed rehab outside of Los Angeles and needed a [program] with good and honest people to help him adjust back to “real life"...The real (and scary) answer is these places are hard to come by. Now to get to why I NEEDED to write this review. Nexus. 5 letters that make up a word I want to shout from the rooftops with such profound gratitude... Nexus gave my husband a community bringing people into our lives which have changed it for the better. Nexus gave my husband counseling which has opened him up to realize his true potential without the need of drugs or alcohol – he is just grateful to be walking in his shoes sober."

Danielle F.

Why Choose a Dual-Diagnosis Treatment Center?

In the realm of addiction treatment, dual-diagnosis has become increasingly popular because of its necessity. Dual-diagnosis treatment focuses on treating both the addiction and any diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health disorders. Studies show that 6 out of 10 people in addiction treatment also struggle with a co-occurring mental health disorder. In some cases, the mental health disorder propelled the addiction, while in others, it developed as a result. Regardless of which came first, it is important to treat both equally to reduce the risk of relapse and improve the recovery experience.

There is no standard path in which a dual diagnosis is identified, but they often exist and go undiagnosed for long periods of time. Mental health conditions can be confused for symptoms of the addiction, leading a person to not receive adequate treatment for both conditions. It can be difficult to identify the presence of a co-occurring disorder because symptoms can appear to be related to the addiction itself. Rather than focusing solely on treating the symptoms of addiction, exploring a person’s history and experiences can help uncover the catalysts. In many cases, addiction develops as a means of self-medication for an existing condition or as a way to escape painful experiences. An initial assessment, therapy, and intensive care can help identify the need for dual-diagnosis care and provide comprehensive treatment when needed.

The Difference with Dual-Diagnosis Care

Dual-diagnosis care encourages a holistic approach to recovery. Rather than strictly utilizing traditional therapy options, dual-diagnosis may employ new forms of treatment, experiential therapy, and other individualized approaches to provide therapeutic benefits in nontraditional settings. This allows therapists to observe clients in environments in which they let down their guard, respond naturally, and explore the world around them. It can provide useful insights into a client’s needs and help propel treatment in the right direction.

The treatments mentioned above used in dual-diagnosis are further explained below:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on changing clients’ unproductive, negative thoughts through developing healthy coping mechanisms and focusing on problem-solving so that clients are empowered to change their circumstances.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET): MET helps clients accept the need for help in treatment by resolving ambivalence and encouraging self-motivating statements early in sessions.
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT): This form of treatment is family-centered and primarily used to help adolescents cope with the problems that have developed as a result of substance abuse.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy: This treatment is often used in patients who have depression, who have lost a sense of meaning in their lives, and in cases where a person has difficulty forming meaningful relationships with others.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT focuses on helping clients who suffer with borderline personality disorders and other mood disorders. It works by helping clients manage painful emotions and learn how to decrease conflict in their lives.
  • Gestalt Therapy: Gestalt therapy focuses on personal responsibility and exploring what is happening in the present in order to work on developing solutions.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is used to help those who have experienced trauma. When asked to recall traumatic incidents, it diverts the client’s attention to reduce distress and makes the experience less emotionally upsetting to explore.
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT): REBT helps clients change irrational beliefs, resolve emotional or behavioral problems, and ultimately feel more fulfilled.
  • Art Therapy: Art therapy allows clients to express themselves through a medium that requires no words. It can be a powerful way to relieve stress and express oneself in a healthy way.
  • Surf Therapy: Surf therapy challenges clients to take on a physical activity they may have no experience with. In the water, they respond naturally to stimuli, allowing therapists to observe behaviors and provide real-world context to coping mechanisms for stressful situations.
  • Music Therapy: Creating, writing, or playing music provides a valuable outlet in treatment and can help a person cope with stressors in a healthy way.
  • Yoga: Yoga encourages inward focus, inviting clients to clear their minds, focus on their breathing, and engage their bodies and minds simultaneously.
  • Meditation and Mindfulness: Meditation and mindfulness encourages self-awareness and self-reflection. The ability to clear one’s mind from the noise of daily life can provide inner peace and focus that is valuable in recovery.

What is Dual-Diagnosis?

Dual-diagnosis treatment is a relatively new approach to an age-old problem. In addiction treatment, many people struggle with symptoms of mental health disorders for a variety of reasons. Some of these may be a side effect of using specific substances, others may be symptoms of withdrawal, and there may even be some that have existed since before the addiction developed. Regardless of the timeline in which these presented, the existence of mental health conditions and addiction were often treated separately. Unfortunately, these two separate issues often overlap and exacerbate symptoms of one another. Leaving one untreated while addressing the other almost never works well. Instead, dual-diagnosis treatment ensures the underlying reasons for substance abuse are addressed and mental health is treated simultaneously with addiction.

What Makes it Different?

Prior to the introduction of dual-diagnosis treatment, mental health and addiction were treated sequentially which was often ineffective for long-term sobriety. Rather than distinguishing between mental health and addiction in terms of treatment options, dual-diagnosis addresses both simultaneously. Dual-diagnosis focuses on how mental health and addiction impact one another in order to improve outcomes. One in four people with a mental health condition also struggles with addiction. The two are often irrevocably linked, making it imperative to treat them together.

Dual-diagnosis treatment provides individualized care designed to address a person’s unique needs in recovery. This should include:

  • A highly-trained treatment team that can address both mental health and addiction simultaneously
  • The potential use of medications to treat mental health disorders
  • A focus on building self-esteem and confidence to support a person through recovery
  • Treatment that spans beyond the individual by including family members and loved ones in the recovery process through group therapy, education, or individual counseling

Signs and Symptoms of Dual-Diagnosis

The signs and symptoms of a dual-diagnosis are similar to substance abuse disorders on their own. These may include:

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after cutting back or quitting substance use
  • Feeling guilt or regret about behaviors
  • Lying and/or stealing to support addiction
  • Poor performance at work and/or in school
  • Cutting ties with friends or family in favor of a different, substance-abusing crowd
  • Using increasingly larger doses of substances
  • Inability to stop using
  • Believing delusions or hallucinations are real
  • Inability to maintain employment, manage finances, or keep healthy relationships
  • Experiencing dramatic mood swings and/or energy levels
  • Deliberately withdrawing from or cutting off relationships
  • Using substances to cope with stress

Not everyone who displays these signs and symptoms has a co-occurring mental health disorder. The only way to accurately diagnose the need for dual-diagnosis is through the help of a professional. Evaluation specialists can examine a person’s psychological history and substance abuse patterns in order to determine whether or not dual-diagnosis treatment would be the most effective option.

Understanding the Need for Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

Mental health conditions can contribute to an altered sense of reality. This may make you inaccurately believe that dual-diagnosis treatment is not needed, which may in turn, cause you to neglect your own care. Mental health conditions can also make you believe you are not worthy of treatment and that drugs or alcohol are the only way you can cope.

Depending on how severe the addiction is and how significantly mental health is impacting your ability to recover, there are multiple treatment options to consider. An initial assessment can help you determine what level of care is most effective for you. Those who struggle with severe signs of mental illness along with addiction often benefit the most from around-the-clock care from professionals, while those who are more mentally stable may not need such a hands-on approach.

It is also important to note that medications are often used in treating dual-diagnosis. While there may be some reservations about using prescription medications, using these only as directed under the care of a doctor can have significant positive outcomes. It is important to assess the risks of using medications in treatment at an individual level. In many cases, medication greatly improves the recovery process as it alleviates symptoms of mental health often lead to relapse.

Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Abuse Stats

It can be difficult to understand the sheer number of people impacted by mental health and substance abuse. Because addiction and mental health conditions are largely still stigmatized, it can be difficult to seek help or to know where to turn. To get a better understanding of the impact of dual-diagnosis, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) regularly publishes data related to dual-diagnosis. Some of this data includes the following:

  • Approximately 17.5 million Americans over the age of 18 struggled with a mental health disorder within the past year, and about 4 million of those people also struggled with a co-occurring substance abuse disorder.
  • Rates of co-occurring mental health disorders becoming diagnosed for those in addiction recovery have steadily grown over the last few years.
  • More than 50 percent of those who struggle with co-occurring disorders did not receive treatment.
  • Statistics show that alcohol is the number one substance abused by those with co-occurring disorders. Roughly 41 percent of dual-diagnosis clients primarily abuse alcohol.
  • Rates of dual-diagnosis have increased steadily in recent years due to prescription painkillers.
  • Approximately 21 percent of dual-diagnosis clients use prescription painkillers.

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