Dual Diagnosis

The concept of dual diagnosis is a relatively new one, but in the field of addiction recovery it has become quite common. In many cases, people are dealing with addiction issues while also suffering from a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression. When individuals are struggling to cope with two intertwining conditions, it can be difficult to treat. In the past, it often meant that one condition would be treated and the other largely ignored. However, these days, recovery clinics such as Recovery Lighthouse know that dual diagnosis patients require specialised care to ensure they overcome their problems.

Here at Recovery Lighthouse, we have a team of professional counsellors and therapists with expertise in the field of dual diagnosis, and they will ensure that each patient is given an effective treatment plan tailored to their individual needs. If you require help with a dual diagnosis, please do not hesitate to contact us.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Patients who are struggling with a severe mental illness alongside an addiction will be described as having a dual diagnosis. Both conditions may be linked and, in some cases, one will be the result of the other. For example, a patient with a mental health condition such as depression may turn to drugs to help them cope but will then develop a drug addiction. Alternatively, someone suffering from alcohol addiction may suffer from anxiety attacks or depression due to relationship problems caused by the alcoholism. Addiction and mental health conditions often occur simultaneously. Substance abuse is often accompanied by mental health issues such as anxiety disorder, personality disorder, depression and schizophrenia.

How Common is Dual Diagnosis?

There is evidence to suggest that between thirty and fifty per cent of patients with mental health problems are also suffering from drug or alcohol problems. There is also reason to believe that up to two-thirds of people with drug or alcohol addictions are also suffering from some type of mental health problem.

Signs and Symptoms

Because the signs and symptoms of addiction and mental health are very similar, it can be difficult to determine which are caused by addiction and which are caused by a mental health problem. Below are a few signs and symptoms to look out for if you suspect a loved one has an addiction or a mental health issue.


  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, work or school
  • Spending time with new friends in favour of family members or old friends
  • Becoming secretive and lying about whereabouts
  • Sleeping longer during the day and staying up longer at night
  • Becoming irritable and moody
  • Drinking more alcohol or taking more drugs than normal
  • Repeatedly promising to stop drinking or taking drugs but not being able to
  • Suffering withdrawal symptoms such as shaking or sweating when not taking drugs or drinking alcohol
  • Feeling paranoid or self-conscious around others
  • Decreased appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweaty palms
  • Moodiness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Hyperactivity
  • Forgetfulness or trouble

Mental Health Problem

  • Social withdrawal
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Euphoria
  • Anger or irritability
  • Anxiety

For a dual diagnosis to be made, a person would need to see a specialist in psychiatric care. At Recovery Lighthouse, we have a team of experts who can identify dual diagnosis and treat it accordingly.

The Importance of Diagnosing and Treating the Condition

Once a person has been given a dual diagnosis, he or she can begin a programme of treatment tailored to his or her needs. Many people are suffering from undiagnosed mental health problems and are struggling because of severe mood swings, suicidal tendencies, flashbacks or deep depression. Nevertheless, once they have been diagnosed, they can begin to get their life back on track.

Individuals who have a dual diagnosis have very complex needs regarding the treatment required. For example, it would be inappropriate to prescribe specific medication to someone with depression if they were also suffering from drug addiction. Therefore, it is essential that a programme of treatment and recovery is created specifically for each person.

In most cases, it is necessary to provide an assessment of the individual and to screen all patients presenting with psychosis for substance abuse. At Recovery Lighthouse, our counsellors and therapists will gather information from patients and their family when and where possible. They will determine the severity of each patients addiction and their mental health problem and can aid in prescribing the most appropriate treatment.


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  • 18 Winchester Road
    West Sussex
    BN11 4DJ
    United Kingdom
  • Tel. 0203 733 9983
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