What Is Dual Diagnosis and How We Treat It?

Dual diagnosis is the term used that refers to a patient who is suffering from both a mental health illness and addiction or substance abuse problem at the same time. Dual diagnosis patients require specific treatment both medically and therapeutically and also need close monitoring. For this reason, many rehab centres and detox clinics are not equipped to successfully treat dual diagnosis patients, due to the complexity of the condition. Dual diagnosis can be difficult to treat, as until the alcohol or drugs are successfully and safely removed, it can be difficult to establish which of the illnesses came first, the addiction or the mental health problem.

Bradford’s Oasis detox clinic offer comprehensive, medical treatment and holistic therapeutic support for those suffering with dual diagnosis illnesses. We find that by treating both co-occurring conditions simultaneously through a combination of therapy and sometimes medications, shows by far the most successful outcome. On admission, each patient is very carefully assessed by our Doctor and nursing team, if there is a need for a psychiatric assessment, we can arrange that also. It is paramount that the patient remains safe throughout their detoxification and their mental health illness stabilized.

Once detox is complete, we strongly recommend that all our patients then go on to compete rehabilitation at one of our quality CQC regulated rehab centres for a bespoke rehabilitation treatment plan. There, those with dual diagnosis will continue to receive high levels of support and close monitoring whilst they rehabilitate from both their addiction and their co-occurring mental health illness.

Treating Dual Diagnosis

With an individual suffering from a dual diagnosis disorder, determining which came first can be challenging. Treating the conditions at different times can be both dangerous and detrimental to a full and lasting recovery. Any individual who has reached the end of the line with an alcohol or drug addiction is likely to show symptoms of depression and anxiety. These symptoms tend to diminish or vanish completely once the patient has been safely detoxed; but this is not the case for patients with Dual Diagnosis. A patient with Dual Diagnosis will be left with the underlying mental health illness; that they may, or may not have, developed as a result of their addiction. It is common for individuals suffering from an underlying mental health illness to self-medicate if they are not receiving the correct treatment for their illness. In cases where the individual has addictive tendencies, this can be disastrous. It masks the underlying illness and can delay the correct diagnosis and treatment. It also, in the long term, leads to the symptoms of the underlying illness becoming much worse……and so the addiction accelerates.

Help on the NHS?

In the community, under the NHS mental health sector, patients are told to stop drinking or drugging before being offered appropriate treatment for any underlying illnesses. If the individual is an addict, it is very unlikely they will be able to achieve this of their own accord; especially if they are self-medicating an underlying problem. This can lead to a very rapid decline in both the addiction and their mental health condition. The prolonged and frequent use of alcohol and drugs actually worsens any pre-existing mental health illness. It is vital that anyone suffering from a dual diagnosis gets immediate professional help to treat both conditions concurrently. Leaving one or both of the conditions untreated can lead to self-harming behaviours and suicidal ideation.

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual Diagnosis can be misleading label in some instances; an individual can suffer with more than just two illnesses at the same time. They may have a combination of different substance or behavioural addictions and mental health conditions. The term that is used now and recognised by medical and addiction professionals is “Co-occurring illnesses”. A diagnosis of co-occurring illnesses will made by a medical professional, when there is at least one disorder of each type can be established independently of the other and is not simply a manifestation of symptoms resulting from addiction.

Many side effects and symptoms will present in an individual who is addicted to alcohol or drugs. These symptoms can propel the individual into a rapid state of mental pathological decline. It is common for someone suffering with the illness of addiction and substance abuse to develop symptoms of depression, anxiety and even psychosis. This is usually reversed once the alcohol and drugs have been stopped. With an individual who has a co-occurring condition, the symptoms will not go away once the substance addiction has been resolved, although in most cases they become more manageable and responsive to treatment. At Oasis Bradford, we treat all presenting conditions simultaneously, as this is recognised to be the most effective way forward to successful recovery from both the addiction and any underlying mental health condition(s)

Common Co-Occurring Illnesses

Mental health conditions that commonly co-occur alongside substance and behavioural addictions are:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Severe Depression
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia

It is important to determine and treat any independent conditions at the same time. In doing so, a full and lasting recovery is possible. It may be that ongoing treatment and monitoring of a mental health condition will be required after leaving residential treatment. Where this is necessary, we will ensure that both the individual, their immediate family and Doctor are fully informed and aware.

How We Treat Dual Diagnosis

Oasis Bradford detox clinic offers a comprehensive assessment of each and every patient that admits to us for treatment. Our qualified and experienced Doctor and nursing staff, who excel in working with patients with dual diagnosis, will deduce through a comprehensive initial assessment, the conditions present and the treatment required. Whilst in our care, each patient will be reviewed and monitored closely from a medical and psychological point of view. If the individual is not responding to the original treatment plan satisfactorily, then this will be reviewed and the needed changes in treatment will be made. If the individual is already under the care of their local mental health team, we will contact them to verify any pre-diagnosed conditions and medications being prescribed.

In a case where the individual is not already under the mental health team, wherever possible we try to avoid strong medications as these can have side effects detrimental to the individual’s recovery, but if necessary, and they are deemed to be beneficial, we can and will prescribe them and consult with our Psychiatrist. Our treatment programme relies heavily on medical, therapeutic and holistic treatment methods; designed to assist each patient through the safe completion of their detoxification. We further encourage our patients to then complete a full rehabilitation treatment programme at one of our rehab centres, where an individually designed rehabilitation programme will be tailored specifically to meet their clinical, medical, psychological, social and spiritual needs. We feel that this is absolutely necessary in order for each patient to recovery fully from all presenting conditions and avoid relapse.

Mental Health Illness Symptoms

Addiction and mental health illnesses can present similar symptoms, so it can be difficult for someone inexperienced in treating dual diagnosis which is which. It is for this reason that we always recommend a full and thorough assessment by a qualified medical professional so that a correct diagnosis can be made. Oasis Bradford are able to comprehensively assess, diagnose and detox dual diagnosis clients. Here are a few examples of mental health illness symptoms, but as previously advised, to the untrained eye, they can easily be dismissed or attributed to symptoms of alcohol or drug abuse:

  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, college or home
  • Severe mood swings
  • Change in appetite and weight
  • Being paranoid or self-conscious
  • Isolating from family, friends and the world outside
  • Self-harming behaviours
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Having a negative perception of life
  • Lacking motivation
  • Irritability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Sleeping problems
  • Aggression or anger
  • Hallucinations
  • Talking to themselves
  • Shaking or sweating
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Relationship problems
  • Becoming secretive
  • Behaving out of character


The Importance of a Correct Diagnosis

It is vital that those with co-occurring disorder(s) are correctly diagnosed as having the condition; otherwise they will not receive the correct treatment. With the conditions being linked, all must be treated simultaneously in order for the person to overcome his or her problems and recover fully. Without a correct diagnosis, correct treatment is delayed and for obvious reasons this can be very detrimental to the individual physically and mentally. Oasis Bradford specialise is detoxing and managing those with co-occurring conditions. In the event someone is too mentally unwell to detox in our environment, we will ensure they are referred to hospital for intensive psychiatric care to stabilize their condition first.

For further advice on dual diagnosis/co-occurring illnesses, or to discuss treatment for your individual case, please call and speak to a member of our clinical team now.


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Call Now 0203 733 5467
Call Now 0203 733 5467

Call Now 0203 733 5467

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  • Oasis Bradford
    21A Bolling Road
    Bradford, West Yorkshire
    BD4 7BG
    United Kingdom
  • Tel. 0203 733 5467
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