Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers in Alabama

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 7.7 million American Adults have experienced a co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder. Of the approximately 20 million adults with a substance use disorder, 37.9% of them also had a mental illness occurring simultaneously. Of the 42 million adults with a mental illness, 18.2% of them had a dual diagnosis disorder. 

As you can see, a co-occurring disorder, which is often referred to as a dual diagnosis, is common in those with substance use disorders and mental illnesses. It can be difficult to determine which came first — the substance use disorder or the mental illness — which is why it has become so imperative for mental health professionals and addiction specialists to treat both conditions at the same time for optimal results. At Birmingham Recovery Center. we offer comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment in Alabama to help individuals find the strength to heal from addiction and mental health.

dual diagnosis, Dual Diagnosis

What is a Dual Diagnosis Disorder?

A dual diagnosis occurs when a person is experiencing both a substance use disorder and a mental illness at the same time. Mental health conditions common to those using substances include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and trauma. These are serious conditions and many times individuals will use substances to cope with difficult feelings.

Substances often interfere with the effectiveness of medications designed to help mental illness, causing individuals’ increased substance use and perpetuating a ceaseless cycle of impairment. The daily situation for a person grappling with an untreated dual diagnosis grows worse over time, as both the symptoms of the substance use disorder and the mental illness increase in number and severity. Without appropriate treatment, experiencing improvements in mental health or substance use are difficult to achieve.

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dual diagnosis, Dual Diagnosis

Signs and Symptoms of a Dual Diagnosis Disorder

Many times it is extremely difficult to distinguish between mental illness and problematic substance use. While these conditions can appear similar, some signs and symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Participating in risky behaviors (driving while under the influence, having unprotected sex)
  • Sudden and unpredictable changes in mood and behavior
  • Inability to control how much of a substance they consume
  • Impulsive or irrational behaviors
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Neglecting physical health and appearance
  • Using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate symptoms of a mental illness
  • Suicidal ideations, tendencies, or behaviors (including self-harm)

These are some of the most common symptoms of dual diagnosis, however they can vary based on the type of substances that a person is using and what mental illness they are experiencing. 

dual diagnosis, Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programming in Alabama

Dual diagnosis treatment involves addressing both the substance use disorder and the mental illness simultaneously, though many programs will only treat one of these conditions, requiring people to switch facilities and work with an entirely new treatment team. But Birmingham Recovery Center believes clients should receive the therapy, medication, and support necessary to begin feeling better and making progress in their lives. Under this approach, individuals looking for dual diagnosis treatment receive what is known as integrated services.

Integrated services focus on treating both the mental illness and the substance use disorder at the exact same time. The core elements of this approach include:

  • Coordinated care — Our experienced therapeutic staff work alongside the medical director to develop and implement a multifaceted treatment plan that includes psychotherapy and medication. This plan is updated and revised throughout a client’s treatment to tailor interventions as their recovery evolves.
  • No separation of care — In the past, a substance use disorder would be treated in one setting while a mental illness might be treated in another. Today, individuals with a dual diagnosis can receive the full amount of care they need at one facility. Most importantly, this allows clients to maintain relationships with their treatment team and their peers in recovery throughout the treatment process.
  • Bundled interventions — In addition to group therapy, clients are matched with individual therapists who are skilled at addressing and resolving issues based upon their specific needs. Issues such as trauma, depression, and anxiety can receive specific attention during individual therapy while new skills and support are provided in a group setting.

How Common is a Dual Diagnosis Disorder?

According to a study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 45% of Americans suffer from a dual diagnosis disorder. In addition, those who regularly abuse drugs and alcohol are more likely to develop a co-occurring or dual diagnosis disorder. A mental health disorder can induce drug addiction or alcoholism, and addiction can bring about a mental health issue. It’s estimated that more than 17 million young adults over the age of 18 have had a severe mental health disorder in the previous year and 23 perfect of the same population abused substances.

dual diagnosis, Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis Statistics

  • The prevalence of dual diagnosis varies by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to develop a dual diagnosis.
  • People ages 30-39 are most likely to have a dual diagnosis, followed by those 40-49.
  • Those 50 and over are least likely to have a dual diagnosis.
  • African American and Hispanic individuals are more likely to have dual diagnoses than Caucasian individuals.
  • Dual diagnoses are most prevalent among low-income populations.
dual diagnosis, Dual Diagnosis

Types of Dual Diagnosis Disorders

Dual diagnosis is a term used to describe the co-occurrence of mental illness and substance use disorder. There are two types of dual diagnosis: comorbidity and polysubstance abuse/dependence (PSAD).


When someone has only one type of mental illness and another type substance abuse or dependence, this condition is called comorbidity.

Examples include:

  • A person with depression and alcoholism
  • A person with schizophrenia and cocaine addiction
  • A person with bipolar disorder and marijuana dependency

Most people with comorbidity do not meet criteria for a dual diagnosis. Instead, they have a single diagnosis but additional symptoms related to their other problem. If you have only one mental illness and no substance abuse or dependence, then you don’t have comorbidity. You simply have one mental illness. If you have two or more mental illnesses, but no substance abuse or dependence problems, then you have a dual diagnosis.

If you have one or more substance abuse or dependence problems and one or more mental illnesses, then you have a comorbidity. This is sometimes referred to as “dual diagnosis.” Some people think that if they have only one mental illness, then they cannot have a dual diagnosis. But, this isn’t true. If you have one mental illness and one substance abuse or dependence problem, then you still have a dual diagnosis. It just means that you have only one type of dual diagnosis.

Polysubstances Abuse/Dependency (PSAD)

A person with polysubstance abuse or dependence (PSAD) has several types of substance abuse or dependency problems. PSAD occurs when someone has multiple types of substance abuse or dependence along with a mental illness. He or she may have substance dependencies, such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Amphetamine (speed)
  • Methamphetamine (crystal meth)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Hallucinogens
  • Other illegal drugs and drug addiction

Services Offered at Our Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers in Alabama

At our dual diagnosis treatment centers in Alabama, clients may receive care through one or more of the following programs:

  • Detoxification: Detoxification, or detox, can be essential for people who have been unable to end their substance use due to the pain of withdrawal. In our detox program, clients can receive medical and therapeutic support to manage withdrawal symptoms and safely rid their bodies of addictive substances.
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP): The PHP at our dual diagnosis treatment centers in Alabama may be the ideal level of care for adults who need full days of structured clinical services, but whose symptoms are not severe enough to require round-the-clock care. When PHP is not in session, participants can return to their homes or to alternative supported residences. 
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP): Our IOP offers partial days of treatment a few days each week. When our IOP is not in session, participants may work part-time, attend classes, or pursue volunteer opportunities. This schedule allows participants to practice their symptom management and relapse prevention skills in a real world environment. When our IOP is back in session, they can process their experiences and receive focused guidance from skilled professionals.
  • Outpatient rehab: Outpatient rehab provides maximum opportunities for adults to engage in a full and independent life while still benefiting from a structured connection to personalized care. After completing one of our other programs, clients may transfer to our outpatient rehab program for step-down support as they make a successful transition out of treatment.

Within these programs, clients who receive care at our dual diagnosis treatment centers in Alabama may benefit from the following services:

  • Holistic therapy: At Birmingham Recovery Center, we understand that mental health disorders and addiction can impact all parts of a person’s life. Our holistic approach to dual diagnosis treatment incorporates a variety of time-tested therapies and emerging, research-supported methods to help our clients achieve true healing in mind, body, and spirit.
  • Family programming: When a person struggles with mental illness and addiction, their close friends and family members may also be impacted. When the individual gets dual diagnosis treatment, their loved ones can play an important role in their recovery. Our family programming includes a dynamic array of services to help loved ones process their experiences, develop healthier relationships, and learn how to best support each other. 
  • Aftercare planning: Recovering from a mental illness and a substance use disorder is a long-term process. Before a person completes their care at our dual diagnosis treatment centers, their team will develop a customized aftercare plan to guide their continued progress. We want to be sure that all clients are connected with the organizations, providers, and services that will support them in the months and years to come.

To learn more about any of these programs and services, please feel free to contact us at your convenience. As we learn more about your unique needs and specific treatment goals, we’ll be better prepared to discuss how our programming can help you live a healthier and more satisfying life.

Begin Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Alabama Today

At Birmingham Recovery Center, our clients can start building a strong foundation of recovery even when they also struggle with mental health issues. They are provided the skills and support to end substance use while receiving the treatment needed to heal from mental illness. Through our experienced medical and therapeutic staff and multiple levels of care, we can tailor treatment to address everyone’s individual needs.

If you or someone you love struggles with substance use and mental illness, contact Birmingham Recovery Center right now. Our team of dedicated and devoted admissions professionals will answer all your questions and discuss how your journey to healing can begin today.

dual diagnosis, Dual Diagnosis
dual diagnosis, Dual Diagnosis
dual diagnosis, Dual Diagnosis
dual diagnosis, Dual Diagnosis
dual diagnosis, Dual Diagnosis

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