Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers

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Addiction and mental illness often go hand-in-hand. Treating one and not the other is ineffective. It’s paramount for an addiction treatment center to identify co-occurring disorders and to treat them in tandem with the addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment is a relatively new innovation in the field of addiction recovery. Not until the 1990s, people who were experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder, such as anxiety, depressive episodes or mood swings, were treated separately from those who sought help for drug or alcohol abuse.   

What is a Dual Diagnosis?

When a person has a dual diagnosis, it means that they are affected by both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, which is oftentimes the underlying reason why people turn towards substances to mask more deeply rooted issues. This condition can also be referred to as having a co-occurring disorder. In these cases, patients need to enroll in an integrated dual diagnosis treatment program so both issues can be addressed at the same time. Once the patient has been treated for their substance abuse disorder and their mental illness, they can then work towards achieving long-term recovery.

Addiction and mental illness both affect how the brain processes and responds to information. Sometimes addiction occurs first and contributes to mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, and sometimes people use drugs or alcohol as a way to ease the symptoms of a mental illness.

There is not always a clear answer as to whether one occurred first or caused the other. Integrated dual diagnosis treatment helps individuals to effectively and simultaneously manage their mental health and overcome their substance addiction.

Years of experience and research have shown that to effectively heal, individuals must address substance abuse and mental health issues simultaneously. That is why Northbound offers a fully integrated dual diagnosis treatment center in Orange County, California. Given the complex nature of the dual diagnosis, Northbound implements a variety of evidence-based therapies and modalities in the treatment process. These approaches are highly researched and effective in treating drug addiction and its underlying causes. Responses to different therapeutic approaches vary in our dual diagnosis centers. Having a large toolbox to draw from enhances our ability to meet each client where they are and serve them in a way that will be most impactful and effective as they develop their recovery.


People diagnosed with drug disorders are roughly twice as likely to suffer also from mood and anxiety disorder.



Of adults who experienced a substance use disorder in 2014 has a co-occurring mental illness.


Types of Co-Occurring Disorders

There are many different types of co-occurring disorders that can be treated at our dual diagnosis program. Substance abuse can include alcoholism or the compulsive use of illicit or prescription drugs. Mental health disorders may include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, schizophrenia, personality disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or a variety of other conditions. Both conditions occur independently of one another although there can be overlap. One disorder does not necessarily cause the other but can be a contributing factor. The good news is that both conditions are treatable with the right dual diagnosis rehab program.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Southern California

Everyone at Northbound’s Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Southern California recognizes the profound impact that addiction has on a person’s life and those around them. In addition to addiction, many clients are also dealing with mental health issues, whether they realize it or not. 

Evidenced-based therapies at Northbound include (but are not limited to) cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), motivational interviewing, experiential therapies, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

The choice of modality is based on the client’s unique needs, preferences, and predispositions. No one modality has been shown to be universally effective. At Northbound, clinicians take the time to develop a strong rapport with each dual diagnosis patient and implement therapeutic techniques best suited to meet that individual’s mental health condition and needs.

To ensure quality treatment is provided, every individual undergoes a biopsychosocial assessment. This assessment clarifies the physical, mental, and social manifestations of addiction and mental health issues in the individual’s life as well as providing valuable insights into ideal treatment planning and therapeutic approaches.

Gender-specific dual diagnosis treatment programs in California are geared toward each person’s unique needs. Men and women are affected differently by co-occurring disorders and are treated in separate settings. In every case, substance use and mental health are addressed at the same time.

It is important that individuals undergoing addiction and psychiatric illness understand the impact that each disorder has on the other, and how this affects their recovery. If only one disorder is treated and the other ignored, it greatly increases the risk of relapse.

Individuals work through the challenges that dual diagnosis can present in all areas of their life. Through individual therapy, process groups, evidence-based treatment, family programs, support groups, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other approaches, individuals are actively engaged and empowered in the recovery process.

In addition to psychiatric care, all individuals undergoing dual diagnosis treatment are assigned both a therapist and a case manager. This comprehensive team works alongside our medical staff and provides individual and small group therapy, addiction counseling, and dual diagnosis education, as well as life-skills development coaching and recreational activities aimed at helping the individual foster a truly thriving and sustainable lifestyle of recovery.

What does this look like, in practice? Every individual who enters Northbound undergoes a psychiatric evaluation upon admission and continues to receive psychiatric care as needed throughout treatment. Many are recommended for short-term medication protocols to safely detox their bodies from the substances they have been abusing. Some benefit from longer-term psychotropic medications to help stabilize their mental health symptoms and allow for the deep work of recovery to begin.

Throughout this approach to healing, mental health plays an important role. Evidence-based therapies are used to promote meaningful introspection, positive thinking, and healthier coping mechanisms. Both substance use and mental health disorders are treated simultaneously to provide the most comprehensive and effective dual diagnosis treatment in Southern California.

Substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders do not have to control your life or the life of someone you love. With effective treatment methods and a full continuum of care, long-term recovery is possible. Therapists, case managers, and other knowledgeable and passionate people at Northbound work with you each step of the way during your treatment plan and provide the level of care and support you need to establish a healthier future and achieve your goals.

Additional Dual Diagnoses We Treat

Addiction and mental illness often go hand-in-hand. Treating one and not the other is ineffective. It’s paramount for an addiction treatment center to identify co-occurring disorders and to treat them in tandem with the addiction.





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