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Dual Diagnosis/Co-occurring Disorders

People struggling with dependency on drugs or alcohol often deal with other disorders or issues that complicate the addiction problem. When a person has both a mental illness and a substance dependency, it is known as a dual diagnosis. Treatment needs to be geared to both concerns simultaneously to achieve the best possible outcome. At Serenity Oaks Wellness Center, we have the expertise and experience to help our dual diagnosis clients attain long-lasting recovery even as they learn healthy ways to manage their mental disorders.


A dual diagnosis can occur in one of two ways. Some will develop the mental illness first and use drugs or alcohol to mask the symptoms of the condition. Known as self-medicating, this approach may seem to have positive benefits in the beginning. However, the substance use and abuse will eventually become more of a problem than a solution, trapping the individual in the throes of addiction even while they are struggling with their mental disorder.

Other times, a person may begin abusing drugs or alcohol, which may cause the onset of a mental illness like depression or anxiety over time. The disorder may have also been lying dormant, and the persistent use of the substance exacerbates the symptoms, making the condition more apparent. No matter where you might fall in this cause and effect process, the need to treat both conditions at the same time remains the same.


While sobriety is our focus in addiction treatment, we also focus on treating and managing the symptoms of the mental illness with our dual diagnosis clients. This integrative approach might entail a combination of psychotherapies, holistic modalities and medication when appropriate. A team of specialists is required to manage the various aspects of dual diagnosis, and we provide that staff at Serenity Oaks Wellness Center to ensure our clients have all their needs met as they navigate the complicated road of dual diagnosis recovery.


Serenity Oaks Wellness Center offers a five-week residential program that is quite effective for dual diagnosis clients. By remaining in our facility for those five weeks, you can focus solely on your treatment and recovery process without outside distractions that can get you off track. Through our structured, comprehensive process, we will address every facet of both of your conditions to ensure you have the greatest odds of a successful recovery.


There are any number of mental illnesses that might accompany an addiction, but the most common ones are:

Bipolar Disorder

This mood disorder is characterized by extreme shifts between manic and depressive phases. Manic phases feature periods of high energy, sleep issues and agitation. Depressive states may include feelings of intense sadness, low energy and difficulty concentrating. Mood episodes can alternate between the two states or involve one at a time. If the condition is left untreated, sufferers may find they are unable to manage either type of episode on their own sufficiently.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a common issue everyone faces at one time or another, but for some, feelings of anxiety can begin to affect every aspect of their daily life. When anxiety starts to affect our choices or impact our quality of life overall, an anxiety disorder may be to blame. Common anxiety disorders include phobias, panic disorders, social anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder. Both genetics and environmental factors can play into anxiety disorders, which are frequently complicated through substance abuse.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that occurs to people that experience a traumatic event like an assault or natural disaster. The symptoms of PTSD, which might include feelings of being on edge, sleep disturbances or avoiding certain people or situations, may occur shortly after the event or much later. People that experience these symptoms often turn to substances like drugs or alcohol to numb the symptoms and make it easier to function. However, the substance use can turn to abuse quickly and become more of a problem than a solution.


This mood disorder, also referred to as major depressive disorder or clinical depression is characterized by severe symptoms including loss of energy, a persistent feeling of emptiness, and loss of interest in people or activities. The symptoms can become intense enough to affect a person’s ability to function and depletes their quality of life. Substances may be initially used to dull the symptoms, but regular use and abuse can make depressive symptoms worse and impact your daily life.


Codependency is a type of dysfunctional relationship where one person relies on the other for all their needs related to self-esteem and emotional wellbeing. For those that are involved in addiction, codependency can perpetuate the process and interfere with a person’s desire to seek treatment for their disorder. Symptoms include poor boundaries, low self-esteem and an unhealthy desire to please people. Treatment for codependency is a vital component of successful addiction treatment.

Body Image Disorders

Body dysmorphic disorder or BDD is a condition in which sufferers obsess about their body image to the detriment of other areas of their life. People with BDD cannot control their thoughts about their body image and will never believe another person’s positive feedback about their appearance. Some even seek out unnecessary surgery to correct their perceived flaws.

Anger Management

Some clients seeking treatment for substance addiction battle uncontrollable anger that affects many of their relationships as well as their daily life. Many of these individuals have dealt with trauma or abuse in their past that affects their ability to manage relationship conflicts and other life events. People in addiction recovery can benefit from learning healthy ways to deal with all of their emotions, including anger.

Grief and Loss

When a person suffers a loss of any kind, through divorce, death or another reason, the effects of that experience can be truly devastating. Some people turn to substances as a way of numbing the pain, but continued use of the drug or alcohol can lead to abuse and dependency. In these situations, dealing with the loss at the same time we treat the addiction can yield the best results.

The good news is that no matter what your dual diagnosis might entail, there are practical treatment options to help you manage the symptoms of both conditions to improve your quality of life, minimize symptoms and promote long-lasting sobriety.

Get Help Today!

If you are struggling with both a mental illness and a substance addiction, it may feel as if you will never break free from the many chains that appear to be binding you and keeping you from living your life to the fullest. The staff at Serenity Oaks Wellness Center understands the seeming hopelessness that can surround a dual diagnosis, but we have also seen firsthand how the right treatment program can help individuals find hope, freedom and sobriety in their recovery process. To learn more about how we treat a dual diagnosis at Serenity Oaks Wellness Center, give us a call today at 844-720-6847.

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