Dual Diagnosis

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

The two components of dual diagnosis may influence one another, and either may develop first. Those with mental illness can begin using substances to cope with their symptoms. However, research shows that drug use worsens the symptoms of mental illness over time. As this occurs, addiction can also deepen over time. This creates a vicious cycle in which both problems become overwhelming, which is when professional intervention becomes necessary.

The symptoms of co-occurring disorders often overlap but it’s important to observe the following:

  • Lack of focus
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Increased irritability or mood swings
  • Poor hygiene
  • Lack of engagement in hobbies
  • Isolation
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies

There are various risk factors for a dual diagnosis that include genetics, the environment, and personality. Research has suggested that a person’s genetics can determine their response to addictive or compulsive behaviors. In recent years, scientists have discovered individual genes and networks that might make someone more susceptible to addiction. Exposure to addictive substances in the womb can create developmental issues later in life.

Environmental factors weigh heavily on the development of addiction. If you grew up in an environment where substance use was a casual thing, the chances of you using increase. A family history of mental illness and substance use can directly influence the outcome for adolescents. 

Traumatic and stressful experiences alter the brain’s activity, often leading people to self-medicate. Someone with a dual diagnosis could be using these coping skills, which mask the symptoms of these disorders.

What Are the Differences Between Protective and Risk Factors?

The factors of developing a substance use or mental health disorder can be categorized in two ways: protective and risk factors. Risk factors are best described as the biological, psychological, social, and cultural characteristics that increase the likelihood of negative outcomes. In contrast, protective factors are best described as the same characteristics that have a decreased likelihood of negative outcomes. It’s important to remember that some of these factors are fixed while other vary. These factors have a direct effect on the lives of anyone and often with each other. Factors such as these can influence a person throughout their lifespan, with no discrimination.

For example, a protective factor within relationships might include a parent who engages in addictive substances. Normalizing the behavior makes it more accessible, increasing the chances of a child or loved one developing a disorder. Within a community, economically challenged communities and violence play a risk factor. In a society, the cultural norms of how substance use or mental health impacts those who are participating. Strict laws and policies have a lasting effect on the community. Dual diagnosis treatment centers in Texas are open and available to guide through these difficult times.

Risk factors will typically correlate with each other but negatively correlate with protective factors. The pairing of these two factors has a cumulative effect on someone’s development, with young people at a higher risk. Early intervention would be critical to prevent any further damage. Women are less likely than men to seek treatment due to fear and stigma. Women with dual diagnosis who enter treatment often report negative results. Women are at twice the increased risk of developing depression, with major depression being one of the leading conditions.

Effective parenting is one of the tools to guide the person through these factors, often reducing risks such as poverty and parental mental illness. Although, the study of these factors requires more research in order to provide better intervention practices. Universal preventative intervention is broad approach to reach wide populations and groups, such as school or workplace. Selective intervention is more targeted towards the biological, psychological, and social factors that appear frequently in high-risk groups. Indicated preventative interventions pinpoints those who are at higher risk of developing a substance use disorder.

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What Are Some Common Mental Health Disorders That Co-occur with Addiction?

Seeking mental health treatment for any mental health disorder is a major step in the fight for health. The common mental health disorders that co-occur with addiction can range from major depression to eating disorders. According to NIMA, 44.8% of US adults with mental illness received treatment in 2019. Dual diagnosis treatment centers in Texas are equipped to handle the most severe cases. 

Co-Occurring Disorders Treated

BRC Recovery offers proven psychological treatment for a wide variety of mental health concerns. The below list is not exhaustive and covers just a few of BRC’s areas of expertise in the field of dual diagnosis. Our clinical team can tailor treatment to your needs – if you do not see your diagnosis listed below, please call and we can discuss the treatment plan that is right for you.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder (I and II)
  • Personality Disorders
  • Trauma
  • Complex Trauma
  • PTSD


Depression thrives as one of the most common mental health disorders globally. Substance use is often the catalyst for feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Addictive substances offer temporary relief to cope with negative emotions and life outcomes. In addition, depression is cited as one of the frequent symptoms of withdrawals, which increases the likelihood for someone to use more of a substance. The vicious cycle is what perpetuates the co-occurring disorders as an attempt to equalize.


Whether it’s the loss of a job or giving a speech in front of the class, anxiety is a feeling most of us can empathize with. This fight-or-flight response is designed to keep you safe in your environment and to predict future events. People use substances like drinking and prescription medication to calm themselves, offering relief from their own minds. The growing dependency on the substance is what creates a sense of vulnerability — thus increasing anxiety.


PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur from a brain injury or traumatic event. War veterans are more likely to experience PTSD. According to NIMA, 3.6% of US adults have been diagnosed with PTSD. Substance use is a direct way to cope with the severity of this condition. The symptoms of PTSD can manifest through different symptoms, often involving:

  • Intense flashbacks
  • Hypervigilance
  • Night terrors

Why Is It Important to Treat Co-occurring Disorders At the Same Time?

According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 US adults experienced mental illness in 2019. Depression is the leading cause of disability with suicide being the 10th lead cause of death in the US. Treating co-occurring disorders at the same time is a way to ensure that the patient addresses all of the roots of their behaviors to prevent relapse. Dual diagnosis treatment centers would be a great option to develop healthy coping behaviors.

It’s crucial to treat co-occurring disorders at the same time to prevent the short, and long-term health effects. Some of these effects might evolve to:

  • The decline in physical and mental health
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Decreased work performance and social growth
  • Financial distress, homelessness
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Issues with law enforcement

What Are The Components of Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Integrated treatment would serve as a more effective option for those battling a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis treatment centers are available in Texas, where integrated treatment could be used. Integrated treatment is designed to address the recovery process of substance use and mental health disorders through amenities like housing, socialization, and employment. Retention is increased when a treatment program is comprehensive and integrated, granting the patient an opportunity to be more engaged. The positive results of integrated treatment should serve as motivation to seek help.

Therapeutic Approaches

BRC Recovery’s team of clinicians utilizes several different modalities depending on each client’s needs and substance use history. As stated above, this list is not exhaustive. For dual diagnosis clients, BRC also employs therapeutic approaches not listed here; we combine and tailor these to fit each client.

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Psychodrama
  • Experiential Therapy
  • Family Programming
  • Robust Alumni Resources
  • 24-Hour Medical and Psychiatric Care
  • Multidisciplinary Treatment Team
  • Neuropsychological Testing

Find Quality Care at BRC Recovery

Dual diagnosis treatment centers in Texas are here to provide the quality care you deserve. BRC Recovery is dedicated to ensuring that your recovery journey is full of life-changing experiences at flexible rates. The disease of addiction spreads and infects those closest to you. If you or a loved one are struggling, feel free to contact us today. The next step in your healing is waiting.






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Comprehensive Dual Diagnosis Treatment

We provide customized, comprehensive addiction treatment for first responders, chronic relapsers, victims of trauma, law enforcement officials, and more.

BRC Recovery’s evidence-based curriculum and experienced staff work together to craft individualized therapy plans to meet each client’s unique needs. If you’re struggling with mental illness and addiction, you’re not alone. Contact our recovery specialists at 1-866-461-1759 to learn more.