Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers Georgia

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Buckhead Behavioral Health is one of the dual diagnosis treatment centers in Georgia that offer individualized and integrated plans to help treat dual diagnosis disorders.

Many people diagnosed with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental or behavioral disorder. This is known as a dual diagnosis. Moreover, people with a dual diagnosis require an integrated treatment plan addressing both disorders as interconnected issues. By integrating treatment for both substance abuse and mental health, for example, the patient stands a better chance of avoiding relapse.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

In short, dual diagnosis is a diagnosis of both a mental health condition as well as a drug or alcohol abuse problem. Many times, a person might self-medicate to overcome a mental health issue, and this can lead to addiction and abuse. Last but not least, over time, drugs and alcohol become a cause of more mental health issues and long-term negative effects.

There are a few names that coincide with dual diagnosis disorder. These are comorbidity and co-occurring disorders. They can use any terms to describe someone who has both a drug or alcohol addiction and a mental health issue as well. There are slight differences between them, and they may want to know the difference if they’re seeking treatment.

There are various mental health issues including depression, anxiety, ADHD, that when combined with alcohol or drug abuse, would be a dual diagnosis disorder.

How Does Dual Diagnosis Treatment Work in Atlanta?

What happens at dual diagnosis treatment centers in Georgia? The process begins with an initial evaluation to determine the individual treatment program that is right for the patient. This may involve medication for a mental illness or the recommendation of a stay in rehab.

The dual diagnosis treatment center will engage in different therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or trauma therapy to help the individual begin the recovery process. Meanwhile, group meetings provide feedback and support.

Some dual diagnosis treatment programs, including those of Buckhead Behavioral Health, offer both inpatient and outpatient services. Inpatient treatment programs are split into 4 parts: detox, assessment, treatment, and aftercare planning. Outpatient programs do not require patients to live on-site and are generally less intensive than inpatient programs.

Common Dual Diagnosis Disorders:

Dual diagnosis disorders are very common when it comes to individuals suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. Some mental health disorders are more common than others.


If someone has ADHD, they may have started on a prescribed stimulant to deal with their ADHD. These drugs can lead to an addictive over use after a period of time. ADHD can also lead to attempts of self-medication with other drugs to help ease both the ADHD and addictive behavior.

Bipolar Disorder

About half of bipolar disorder patients suffer from addiction. The manic highs, depressive lows, and mood shifts with this mental health disorder, leads users to self-medicate in order to reduce the disorder’s effects. Over time, alcohol and drug abuse can damage someone’s mental and physical state. Self-medication may seem to provide short-term relief for those with bipolar.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Roughly 2 out of 3 BPD sufferers have self-medicated and turned to substance abuse at a time, to solve the issue.


If someone suffers from depression, they may try to self-medicate using drugs or alcohol. In the short term, this may feel like they are blurring out the problem. However, over time the additional use of drugs is much worse than just the depression alone.

Anxiety Disorder

People who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder may self-medicate in order to relieve the symptoms. Sometimes addictive prescription medications that treat anxiety can lead to a dependency on the drug and further self-medicating.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

People who have unwanted obsessions, which lead to increased anxiety, depression, and sometimes leading to drug abuse.


Those that suffer from PTSD have fewer endorphins, leading to more depressive states, and more alcohol and drug use. Almost 75% of veterans who had PTSD said they used alcohol repeatedly.


Those suffering from schizophrenia may experience a multitude of symptoms. Those symptoms may include delusional thinking and hallucination, visual, auditory and sensory. Furthermore, people who decide to self-medicate using substances for their condition often find themselves in an even worse condition.

There are so many combinations of dual diagnosis disorders, since there are so many mental disorders and multiple drugs that vary in degrees of severity on both ends. It’s almost difficult to see what’s causing the problem, especially if it’s become a self-reinforcing loop.

Signs and Symptoms of a Dual Diagnosis Disorder

Someone could struggle with addiction if they are showing withdrawal symptoms like sweating, flushes, tremors or increased anxiety and aggression. A person could have bad sleeping patterns or experience weight loss or gain. They might have a lack of personal hygiene and have dilated or red pupils.

Individuals may express paranoid or anxious behaviors and suffer a loss of motivation. They will isolate themselves and could have money problems and refer to selfish, self-centered behaviors more often than is normal.

Drug Addiction Can Be Defined As A Mental Illness

Drugs and alcohol can change the brain, warp one’s thinking, affect the physical body, and how one interacts with the world. When someone already suffers from a mental illness or disorder, the same parts of their brain that are affected by the disorder are being affected by the drugs.

Addiction disease causes them to have uncontrolled cravings and compulsions for a certain substance. Even if they know the drugs and alcohol will cause more problems, the addiction can take over unless they seek out treatment.

The drugs that may have started as self-medication slowly turn into a cause of mental disorders. Thus, ultimately causing the underlying issue to compound on itself, and it’s easy to get caught in a loop. In the short term, the drug or alcohol user feels a little better, but long-term effects will cause damage to one’s physical and mental health.

Co-Occurring Vs Dual Diagnosis Disorder

What is a dual diagnosis disorder when compared to co-occurring disorder? Dual diagnosis describes a person having two occurring conditions, physical, mental, and drug or alcohol addiction, at the same time. Co-occurring better describes situations where the person may have a mental disorder that leads to drug or alcohol addiction, and vice versa. The term can also refer to someone who has cancer, hepatitis or other diseases alongside an addictive disorder.

Whatever you call it, dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorder, or comorbidity, it’s important to seek the right treatment in order to have the best chances to recover.

How Common is a Dual Diagnosis Disorder?

Dual diagnosis disorders are extremely common. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 45% of people in the US live with a dual diagnosis. Those diagnosed with a mental health disorder are roughly twice as likely to have a substance use disorder as the general population.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that 60% of adolescents in drug treatment programs have a co-occurring mental illness. This is due in part to their stage of brain development.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers in Atlanta, Georgia

Dual diagnosis is difficult to treat, as there are many symptoms mixed at once. Treatment often takes a long time because of the complicated nature of dual diagnoses. Not to mention figuring out what is the actual cause. There’s no quick fix to this type of diagnosis, and careful treatment will move at a slow pace to suit the person involved.

It’s important to work on both the mental health problems and the drug addiction and see where the triggers and behaviors are. Having a dual diagnosis leads to a cycle of self-destruction that’s hard to come out of. Mental illness that led to substance abuse then worsened the mental illness, creating a heavier dependence on those substances.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a dual diagnosis of mental health issues alongside addiction problems with drugs or alcohol, then reach out to us and we’ll see what treatments will best suit your needs.

Buckhead Behavioral Health is a luxury addiction treatment facility and drug rehab in Atlanta, Georgia. Offering individualized treatment, the multidisciplinary staff at Buckhead Behavioral Health offers evidenced-based practices to help individuals recover from addiction in a safe and structured setting free from distractions. Learn more about our admission process and begin the road to recovery now.

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