Dual Diagnosis


Northbound’s staff 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. Mental health issues “co-occurring” (meaning happening at the same time) with addiction is very common.

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 fully integrated dual diagnosis treatment in Orange County, California.

What does this look like in practice?

Every client undergoes a psychiatric evaluation upon admission and continues to receive psychiatric care as needed throughout treatment. Many clients are recommended for short-term medication protocols to safely detox their bodies from the substances they have been abusing.

Some clients also benefit from longer-term psychotropic medications to help stabilize their mental health symptoms and allow for the deep work of recovery to begin.

In addition to psychiatric care, all clients 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 life-skills development coaching and recreational activities aimed at helping the client foster a truly thriving and sustainable lifestyle of recovery.

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 rehab in Orange County.


What is 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. This condition can also be referred to as having co-occurring disorders.

Addiction and mental illness both affect how the brain processes and responds to information. Sometimes addiction occurs first and contributes to mental health disorders 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 our clients to effectively manage their mental health and overcome addiction.

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Dual Diagnosis Statistics in the United States

As stated, it is quite common for a person with a mental illness to struggle with substance abuse and vice versa. These conditions often go hand-in-hand and have overlapping symptoms. This can not only make it more difficult to differentiate between the two conditions and makes recovery more challenging without the proper treatment and support in place.

  • Approximately 9 million Americans had co-occurring disorders in 2014
  • Men are more likely than women to develop a dual diagnosis
  • Approximately one-third of people who misuse alcohol and one-half of those who misuse drugs also have a mental illness

Types of Co-Occurring Disorders

There can be many different types of co-occurring disorders. Substance abuse can include alcoholism or 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 must occur independently of one another although there can be overlap
  • One disorder does not necessarily cause the other but can be a contributing factor
  • Both conditions are treatable

Evidence-Based Therapies and Modalities at Northbound

Given the complex nature of 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 addiction and its underlying causes.

Responses to different therapeutic approaches vary. Having a large tool box 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.

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 their clients and implement therapeutic techniques best suited to meet that individual’s needs.

To ensure quality treatment is provided, every client undergoes a biopsychosocial assessment. This assessment clarifies in-depth 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.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs for Men and Women

Gender-specific dual diagnosis treatment programs for men and women are geared toward each group’s unique needs. Men and women are affected differently by these co-occurring disorders and are treated in separate settings. However, in both cases, substance use and mental health are addressed at the same time.

It is important that clients 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.

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

Get Treatment for Substance Abuse and Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

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 staff work with you each step of the way and provide the level of care and support you need to establish a healthier future and achieve your goals.Save