Peninsula Health Center

How Does a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program Work?

If you or someone close to you is struggling with addiction and mental health issues, it’s important that you get treatment for dual diagnosis disorders so that you can treat both disorders at the same time. Knowing how does a dual diagnosis treatment program work is vital to treatment.

Peninsula Health Center is a Palos Verdes drug and alcohol rehab center. Contact us today to learn more about our Southern California addiction treatment programs.

How are Mental Health and Addiction Linked?

There is a common link between mental health disorders and substance abuse because people with mental health disorders try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. The desire to self-medicate to overcome intrusive or disruptive thoughts and actions can lead to dependency.

Secondary Disorders

With time, regular drug use or alcoholism alters brain chemistry. These changes to brain chemistry can lead to mental health issues like depression or anxiety. Someone with bipolar disorder, PTSD, or a personality disorder who tries to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol might develop anxiety or depression as a secondary mental health issue.

Increased Symptoms

Ongoing drug and alcohol abuse to self-medicate can actually make symptoms worse. Someone experiencing major depressive disorder and self-medicating with drugs and alcohol can actually increase levels of depression. So, when they aren’t using or drinking, they feel even more depressed than they did before, so they turn to increased doses of drugs or alcohol, or they use or drink more often.

So, how does a dual diagnosis treatment program work, and what can it treat?

How Does a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program Work?

All too often, people struggling with mental health disorders and substance abuse go to drug and alcohol rehab, but they only get treatment for addiction. This means the underlying symptoms of things like depression or anxiety rear their ugly heads in the future and contribute to a relapse.

Treatment for dual diagnosis starts with detox, the same as any other addiction program. In order to get treatment for any conditions, you need to be of clear mind and body.

Once detox is complete, the rest of your treatment will target your specific conditions. For example:

  • You might start medication management services where a team of medical professionals prescribes medication to help you with the symptoms of your mental health disorder. They will monitor the effectiveness of these medications as you progress through your treatment and make adjustments where necessary.
  • The individual and group therapy sessions you attend as part of your treatment for dual diagnosis disorders will involve modalities specific to your mental health disorder and your addiction. For anxiety or depression, this often includes cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy.
  • The holistic treatment added to your program will help tackle both conditions at the same time. You might participate in mindfulness or meditation practices to help you cope with triggers from your mental health disorders and cravings from your substance abuse.

Treatment Program for Dual Diagnosis

It was previously believed that clients needed to choose which they would treat first, the addiction or the mental health disorder. Today we understand that treatment should be provided for both concurrently. 

Addiction is another mental health disorder which means integrative therapy can be used to address physical dependence and mental health symptoms of addiction and coexisting disorders.


Your treatment program for dual diagnosis starts with detoxification. Detox helps get rid of any residual compounds in your body from the substances you have used. If, for example, you used amphetamines or cocaine to try and stimulate yourself and overcome feelings of depression, you have to treat the physical dependence on amphetamines or cocaine first.


After detox, it’s time to start therapy. Dual diagnosis therapy considers all existing mental health disorders and provides an interdisciplinary program where you work with several licensed professionals. Each of these therapists collaborates to ensure you meet your goals for recovery and manage your coexisting disorders’ symptoms.

Why Choose Peninsula Health Center?

Peninsula Health Center specializes in treatment for dual diagnosis disorders. Your recovery plan can involve treatment for any combination of mental health disorders and substance abuse, including things like:

  • Depression and alcoholism
  • Anxiety and prescription drugs 
  • PTSD and opioids or alcoholism
  • Schizophrenia and marijuana
  • ADHD and alcoholism

When you start your treatment program for dual diagnosis, you can expect to meet with your care team immediately. Your team will consist of multiple professionals dedicated to helping you during your recovery. 
Call us today to learn more about treatment for dual diagnosis.