Experiencing both low feelings and cravings towards drugs and/or alcohol is a common response. While such feelings may feel normal, manageable, or insignificant, they can in fact reflect the symptoms of a dual diagnosis.

A dual diagnosis is where co-occurring disorders are encountered in parallel with one another, surrounding mental illness and substance abuse. Although the primary disorder can carry the greatest weight, both diagnoses can be very challenging to live with, due to their psychological connection.

Found to impact 50% of individuals who suffer from pre-existing mental health concerns, similarly the case for heavy drug and alcohol users, dual diagnosis is a common outcome of advanced susceptibility, requiring professional support.

Are you asking yourself ‘am I suffering with dual diagnosis?’. Keep reading for awareness around the impacts, causation, signs and symptoms and risk of dual diagnosis, treatable here at Asana Lodge.


What is a dual diagnosis?

Where two conditions run alongside and impact one another, ultimately co-occurring is the meaning of a dual diagnosis. Here’s where a degree of addiction will either trigger, develop or maintain through mental health vulnerabilities, and vice versa.

Found to be difficult to live with, due to the cycle that both conditions create, a dual diagnosis is a complex combination of symptoms, triggers, experiences, and consequences, only treatable through rehab.

Both addiction and mental health conditions develop and intensify in the mind, causing changes to brain structures, chemical sources, and emotional responses. Combined, they target the central nervous system by adapting the reward response, driving their relationship.

Caused by a range of internal and external influences, arguments back the aggravation of substance abuse as the driver of dual diagnosis, while others see existing mental vulnerabilities as the catalyst. Yet ultimately, due to the complex nature of brain conditions and the basis of co-occurring outcomes, substance abuse and mental health issues are both found to fuel one another, no matter the initial diagnosis.

If you’re wondering ‘am I suffering with dual diagnosis?’, consider the below signs and symptoms to recognise your diagnosis.


Causes of dual diagnosis

There are two main causes of dual diagnosis, including heavy substance abuse and pre-existing mental illness. Firstly, consistent, and heavy exposure to drugs and alcohol can cause both internal and external problems, increasing the risk of mental health issues.

Internally, drugs and alcohol can suppress the organic functioning of the brain, depleting chemical production and changing the structure and strength of cognitive activity. Such suppression can result in weaknesses that alter perceptions, outlooks, and emotional responses.

Externally, the consumption of drugs and alcohol can cause emotional turmoil, along with consequential outcomes, naturally increasing the risk of depression, anxiety, and compulsive behaviours.

Secondly, pre-existing bouts of poor mental health, along with the diagnosis of disorders can cause a dual diagnosis. It is found that individuals who struggle mentally lean on drugs and alcohol due to their escape-like nature.

Offering opportunities for relaxation, blur symptoms, adapt landscapes and suppress symptoms, drugs and alcohol can be viewed as a reward, soon accustomed to internal functioning. Through the opportunity of reward, the habit of substance abuse can materialise, which without control can result in an addiction.

Both causations showcase the co-occurring element of dual diagnosis. Yet there are further factors that can increase the risk of development, including:

  • Influential and toxic environments
  • Social pressures and ideologies
  • Mistreatment of an undiagnosed primary condition
  • Biological weaknesses
  • Negative coping strategies
  • Psychological impairments
  • A lack of support and understanding


Whether you’re struggling through a primary condition or a dual diagnosis, support will be encouraged, to reduce the ingrained relationship between both vulnerabilities.


Am I suffering from dual diagnosis?

There are some warning signs, standing as signs and symptoms to be aware of when considering the risks and likelihood of dual diagnosis. If you are questioning your current mental health, habits, and relationship, considering the below will be encouraged.

Signs and symptoms of dual diagnosis include:

  • Seeing drugs and alcohol as a reliever of mental health symptoms
  • Experiencing mental health weaknesses through consumption
  • Feeling a vicious cycle between both your mental health and actions
  • Finding difficult to withdraw while faced with consequences
  • Living in denial to block out habits
  • Experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety while sober
  • Disruptions through addiction recovery due to poor mental health
  • Disruptions to mental health recovery through substance abuse
  • Feeling mutually triggered


Whether you’re abusing prescription, recreational or highly illicit drugs, while battling mental health symptoms, this can be a strong indication of dual diagnosis. When both conditions or symptoms combine, an indefinite link will be present, requiring professional help and treatment.


Do mental health issues make addictions worse?

Mental health issues can aggravate addiction symptoms and histories, standing as both a cause and fuel of intensity. Such effects are also found at the other end of the scale, where addiction can deter mental health, heightening the risk of a diagnosis.

Both conditions are impactful down to the emotions that they produce, distorting reality, causing irrational outlooks, and suppressing organic messaging.

If you’re truly considering ‘am I suffering with dual diagnosis?’, it’s essential to take the warning signs seriously, as co-occurring disorders can be challenging to break. Without efficient intervention, conditions can worsen, displayed through health concerns, life-threatening risks, and low-quality realities.


Dual diagnosis treatments and therapies

As a dual diagnosis is complex, treatments and therapies must be appropriate, strong, and impactful. Offered here at Asana Lodge, we combine suitable treatment options to holistically heal the mind from dual diagnosis.

Working alongside one another, independent treatment programmes will be formed, to benefit co-occurring symptoms and effects. Commonly completed treatments include detoxification, cognitive behavioural therapy, NAD+ therapy, motivational therapy, exposure therapy, mental health services, support groups, and individual therapy.

Dual diagnosis treatment will aim to suppress the cause and impacts of each condition, to reduce their mutual effects on the brain. With an accumulative effort, treating both addiction and mental health disorders is possible.

Living with a dual diagnosis can be tough, alienating, and confusing. Yet support is available, group therapy is available, inpatient treatment is available and programmes of recovery are available. Contact our team at Asana Lodge to gauge ‘am I suffering with dual diagnosis?’, with follow on steps of dual diagnosis treatment.



Dual Diagnosis: Substance Abuse and Mental Health


John Gillen - Author - Last Updated: 20 August 2021

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of Nad+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. his passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases.

The journey continues, in recent times john has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with Nad+ scientists and the very best of the medical profession in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Clinics own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists, Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with Nad+ therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.

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