Co-Occurring Disorders and Dual Diagnosis Rehab in Sacramento, CA

Have you or your loved one been suffering from addiction and experienced numerous failed attempts at recovery?

With each unsuccessful attempt, do you find that the addiction has only deepened?

If that is so, it may be the case that addiction is not the only disorder you or your loved one suffers from.

Many who have lived with an addicted loved one, or have coped with addiction themselves, have come to realize that mental illness can often co-exist along with an addiction disorder. In many cases, one feeds off the other. In fact, it can at times be difficult to tell the difference between the two, or to unravel where one begins and the other ends.

Too often in out current system, addiction and mental illness are looked upon as separate disorders and are therefore treated separately. However, there is growing medical literature showing that these two are often too closely related to be addressed individually. It is a situation referred to as dual diagnosis, and it is not a rare phenomenon. It is also one that can come in many forms.

Accurate diagnosis of co-occurring mental and addiction disorders is critical to the treatment of both. Studies show that addressing one, but not the other, typically results in a worsening of both conditions over time. So, it is important that, before considering treatment options, you take into account the possibility of a dual diagnosis

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Simply put, dual diagnosis is the presence of both substance addiction and mental illness.

However, when we examine the issue more closely, we must be aware of the fact that we are talking about a broad spectrum of disorders and a range of severities. Additionally, due to the fact that both disorders are present, it usually requires treatment from a team of specialists, each with different areas of expertise, for accurate diagnosis.

Too often in our current model of addiction treatment, any emotional instability or psychological distress is attributed to the addictive substance. But just as frequently as the addiction can cause symptoms of mental illness, the mental illness can also lead to the addiction.

For example, alcoholism is known to cause or exacerbate depression. But in another situation, a sufferer from bipolar disorder might be indulging in drug binges concurrent with manic phases. It might also be the case that those with mental illness have become chemically dependent over years of relying on psychiatric medication.

dual diagnosis
mental illness

With so many varying possibilities, the actual causes of dual diagnosis are, therefore, not always clear or certain. The critical factor to keep in mind is that a simple diagnosis of addiction should not be rendered until the possibility of co-occurring mental illness has been ruled out. In addition, be aware that with any diagnosis of mental illness, an addiction problem—even if it is not obvious—might also be contributing to, or causing, the disorder.

The stakes can be quite high when it comes to accurately identifying the dual diagnosis. In cases where both addiction and mental illness are present, the likelihood of potentially negative outcomes for the individual is greatly increased. Psychiatric episodes, relapse, violence, suicide, arrest, unemployment, homelessness, and the presence of infectious disease are only some of the issues that are more likely to exist for those suffering from co-occurring disorders.

How Common is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis occurs much more frequently than many people realize. Part of the problem is that the behavior of the intoxicated person often masks the underlying mental illness. It can also be the case that the sufferer does not necessarily have an obvious substance abuse problem, but is instead suffering from another form of addiction (sex, gambling, etc.).

In the case of substance abuse, however, when an addicted person consistently acts in an irrational or anti-social manner when under the influence, or when these behaviors carry over into a person’s sober states, then these can be serious warning signs of co-occurring disorders. Too frequently, though, the psychological symptoms are written off as just the effects of being under the influence.

Statistics from the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) show that about one-third of those suffering from mental illness also engage in substance abuse. In the case of mental illnesses that are termed as severe, that number rises to about 50%.

Similar percentages relating to mental illness are also seen among addicts. Roughly 33% of all alcoholics report suffering from a mental illness. For drug abusers, the number climbs to 50%.

NIMH also reports that 56% of all bipolar cases also exhibit substance abuse problems. For those suffering from schizophrenia that number is 37%. Additionally, 32% of those with nonbipolar mood disorders and 27% with anxiety disorders also have substance abuse problems.

There are also some general factors that tend to contribute to increased instance of co-occurring disorders. The numbers show that men are more likely to develop a co-occurring disorder than women. Additionally, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are at higher risk, as well as military veterans. Those in generally poor health overall are also more susceptible to dual diagnosis conditions.

In all, the estimates range from about 10-14 million Americans who suffer from addiction that is co-occurring with one or more mental health disorders.

What Are the Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis?

The difficulty in formulating a list of specific symptoms for dual diagnosis lies in the fact that there can be many different combinations of both addictions and types of mental illness. The circumstances are further complicated by the fact that both of these disorders vary tremendously in their degree of severity.

Typically, the best strategy for identifying symptoms is to know and understand the warning signs of addiction, as well as some of the general behaviors that indicate one is suffering from a mental disorder. When a person’s conduct ticks off boxes in both of these lists, then there is a possibility of co-occurring disorders.

It is important not to jump to conclusion, however, particularly in ruling out the dual diagnosis. Only professionals who specialize in this type of treatment can accurately assess whether or not co-occurring disorders are present. It will then take further evaluation to determine what type of mental illnesses are involved. All of this can only happen after a full detox has been completed.

With that in mind, some common symptoms of both substance addiction and mental illness are listed below:

Common Symptoms of Drug Abuse (according to the Mayo Clinic)


Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly — this can be daily or even several times a day


Having intense urges for the drug


Over time, needing more of the drug to get the same effect


Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug


Spending money on the drug, even though you can’t afford it


Not meeting obligations and work responsibilities, or cutting back on social or recreational activities because of drug use


Doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing


Driving or doing other risky activities when you’re under the influence of the drug


Focusing more and more time and energy on getting and using the drug


Failing in your attempts to stop using the drug


Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the drug

feeling sad

Common Symptoms of Mental Illness (according to the Mayo Clinic)


Feeling sad or down


Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate


Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt


Extreme mood changes of highs and lows


Withdrawal from friends and activities


Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping


Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations


Inability to cope with daily problems or stress


Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people


Alcohol or drug abuse


Major changes in eating habits


Sex drive changes


Excessive anger, hostility or violence


Suicidal thinking

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Integrated treatment

The integrated approach to co-occurring disease is treating both disorders simultaneously. By this it is meant that a single treatment facility has a specialized staff trained to address both a patient’s mental illness as well as the addiction disorder.

In integrated treatment, the emphasis is placed on the patient making incremental strides in addressing both addiction and their mental health issues. Just as the two disorders tend to feed off of each other, the integrated treatment approach holds that one step in a positive direction with one disorder is inevitably going to lead to progress with the other. By first achieving sobriety and understanding symptom management, the patient begins taking steps toward a healthy and substance-free lifestyle.

Detoxification and Dual Diagnosis

Due to the mental illness aspect of dual diagnosis, the detox portion of recovery can be particularly difficult for the patient. Substance withdrawal is typically a highly stressful and emotionally unstable time for any addict. Treatment centers must be aware of increased chances of depression, or other mental health issues, can cause the patient to become violent or self-destructive during the detox process.

Detox is also a critical factor in making a correct diagnosis of co-occurring disease. It is only after the abused substance has been completely removed from the body that an accurate mental evaluation can be performed. Once the intoxicant is no longer a factor, then the remaining symptoms can be addressed.

Inpatient Care

Following the completion of detoxification, it will be critical for the dual diagnosis patient to remain in a supportive therapeutic environment.

This is due to the fact that—even for patients not suffering from mental illness—the period immediately following detoxification can still be one of increased stress and anxiety that can last for up to two weeks. As with the initial detox, a patient suffering from mental illness is facing a time of emotional instability and psychological duress, which can greatly exacerbate any underlying mental illnesses.

Medication and therapy


The purpose of medication in the treatment of dual diagnosis is two-fold. The first objective is to decrease symptoms. The other is to allow the addict’s emotional state to stabilize. During the initial phase of taking medication, maintaining sobriety becomes an absolute necessity. Not only will substance abuse interfere with the prescribed medication, but also certain drug combinations are potentially hazardous to the addict’s health.

When it comes to medications, there are several general types that might be employed, depending upon the combination of mental illness and the abused substance:








Beta Blockers




Sleep Aids

The Best Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers in Sacramento, CA

The good news on the dual diagnosis front is that, more and more, treatment facilities are beginning to recognize the importance of addressing not just one or the other, but both. Subsequently, there are many quality choices in the Sacramento area.

Finding the one that best fits you is going to mean taking into consideration your budget, the amenities you feel would be most beneficial to recovery, and identifying the staff you feel the most comfortable with.

With that said, some options that have a very good reputation in correctly identifying dual diagnosis and treating co-occurring disorders are:

Valley Recovery Center

Valley Recovery Center

This facility accepts most major insurance carriers. They have a variety of recovery programs including detox, residential treatment, day treatment and Intensive Outpatient (IOP). They also have a staff trained and dedicated to cases of dual diagnosis.

New Dawn Dual Diagnosis Treatment

This Sacramento facility has 30+ years in practice and also specializes in the treatment of dual diagnosis patients. Additionally, they offer treatment approaches ranging from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Therapy, Trauma Therapy, Art Therapy and much more. Most major insurance carriers are accepted, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Sovereign Health Substance Use & Dual Diagnosis

This treatment center specializes in providing care for teens and adolescents, ranging from 12-17. They offer services for a wide range of disorders that may be co-occurring with a substance abuse problem. Their programs are designed to involve the entire family in the recovery process, so they can also be more effective in the prevention of relapse.


Although the treatment of co-occurring disorders has advanced remarkably in recent years, the existence of the problem is still not as widely recognized as it should be. Too frequently, those suffering from addiction fail to consider or perceive their underlying mental illness.

The situation is actually worsened when the dual diagnosis sufferer seeks help, but chooses a facility that only addresses their addiction. The result often is relapse, and a deepening of both the addiction and the mental health issue.

If you are suffering from addiction, take the time to also consider the possibility of a co-occurring mental illness. Examine the possible symptoms of both and consider how many of each you exhibit, as well as how strongly they are present. Also, always keep in mind the possibility of dual diagnosis when you are looking at possible treatment facilities or talking to an addiction professional about possible treatment options. The effective treatment of both disorders will be critical to your recovery.