Northpoint Evergreen Explains the Practice of Dual Diagnosis for Those Suffering From Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

Northpoint Evergreen, an accredited dual diagnosis outpatient treatment in Washington, has published information online that explains the practice of dual diagnosis. The clinic’s website is an expertly crafted resource that is recommended as a read for anyone who is struggling with, or has a loved one who is struggling with, mental health and substance use disorders.

Dual diagnosis is the practice of comprehensively examining a patient in order to reveal multiple diagnoses of both mental health disorders and substance use disorders. This is backed up by data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) which says that around 45% of all those who suffer from addiction also suffer from mental illnesses. Conversely, by statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 18% of Americans suffer from mental illness and almost half of them have problems with addiction.

Woman in dual-diagnosis treatment

Though anecdotally it seemed that there might be a strong correlation between the two, doctors were not able to prove a direct link until the 1980s. It took many more years to develop techniques for integrated treatment. Consequently, dual diagnosis is a new phenomenon, and Northpoint Evergreen is operating on the cutting edge of medical research to treat patients who suffer from both disorders. Currently, only 14% of people with comorbid addiction and mental illnesses are receiving an integrated treatment for both problems.

Those suffering from ADHD are more vulnerable to develop alcohol or drug use disorders. Of opioid users, 10% develop depressive disorders. Heavy marijuana smokers might suffer from the early onset of schizophrenia and psychosis. Cocaine use might bring on anxiety disorders. Due to overwhelming evidence of the strong links between the two disorders, it is recommended to treat both conditions together by taking into account their influence over each other.

Self-medicating with substances is harmful to individuals suffering from both disorders as it merely masks the symptoms of serious mental health problems and can even create long-lasting addictions. There is also the risk of overdosing or suicidal ideation. Researchers at the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Journal studied 117 patients at various drug rehab facilities and found that 54% of patients in the survey were polysubstance users, of which 59% had co-occurring mental health conditions.

Some common co-occurring disorders are attention-deficit /hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with stimulants such as cocaine, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with opioids, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) with marijuana, anxiety disorder with cocaine, panic disorder with benzodiazepines, antisocial personality disorder with alcoholism, schizophrenia with marijuana, bipolar disorder with cocaine and alcohol, and finally depression with general substance use.

It is generally difficult to diagnose co-occurring disorders because the symptoms from both conditions are so similar that it is hard to tell what symptom is caused due to which condition. When the substance use is long-term, the brain becomes overwhelmed with toxicity and ceases normal functioning, leading to sleep deprivation, erratic eating habits, and withdrawal.

The best-known way to tackle the conditions of a person suffering from multiple disorders is to create a highly individualized program that takes into account each one’s unique symptoms. There is a need for a specialized team of psychiatrists, nurses, counselors, and doctors who study the patient and work with each other to formulate the best course of action. Cognitive behavioral therapy shows promise as it identifies harmful thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs that keep a person trapped in the vicious cycle of substance use. The goal of the integrated treatment, therefore, becomes to root out the destructive thought patterns that keep the patient returning to addictive behaviors.

Northpoint Evergreen asks anyone who is concerned about their loved one’s addictions to stay vigilant for signs such as disregarding hygiene and healthy habits; having difficulty managing money and finances; an inability to comply with traditional drug treatment, counseling, or other therapeutic programs; alarming or erratic behavior; an inability to keep up with daily responsibilities and everyday tasks; apparent cognitive changes or deficits; sudden or unexpected aversion to social situations and planned activities; deteriorating performance at school or work; extreme changes in behavior and moods; and suicidal thoughts or tendencies.


For more information about Northpoint Evergreen, contact the company here:

Northpoint Evergreen
(855) 910-8892
2111 North Northgate Way Suite 101
Seattle, WA 98133