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Common Dual Diagnosises & Addiction

mental health and dual diagnosis

Are You Drinking or Using to Numb Your Feelings? Here are The Dual Diagnosis To Be Aware Of

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that addiction and mental health go hand in hand. 

You probably don’t need us to tell you that you don’t just drink because you feel like it, you drink for a reason, whether it’s because you are depressed, dealing with a trauma, or experiencing severe anxiety.

Dealing with substance abuse is never easy, but it can be more easily treated once we begin to look into the issues around why you drink in the first place.

Accepting who you are is the first step – let us help. Call 0808 1150 446.

You are not alone

  • 50% of those suffering from mental disorders are affected by substance abuse
  • 37% of alcohol abusers and 53% of drug users have a minimum of one mental illness
  • Of all those diagnosed mentally unwell, 29% use alcohol and drugs to cope

The most common co-occurring disorders

We have broken down the most common co-occurring issues we see, if you are struggling with any of the below please do not hesitate to talk to us immediately on Live Chat here.


  • Feeling helpless and hopeless
  • Loss of interest in daily life and activities
  • The inability to experience pleasure
  • Changes to eating habits or weight
  • Change to sleeping habits
  • Lack of energy
  • Feeling worthless and guilty
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anger, reckless behaviour and physical pain


  • Excessive tension and worry
  • Feeling restless and jumpy
  • Feeling irritable and “on edge”
  • Beating and racing heart
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, shaking and dizziness
  • Headaches and tension
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Insomnia


  • Extreme irritability and feelings of euphoria (high highs and low lows)
  • Often unrealistic beliefs
  • A decreased need to sleep
  • More energy
  • Rapid thinking, thoughts and speech
  • Impaired judgement
  • Increased impulsivity
  • Anger or rage

There are various other mental health problems and disorders that commonly co-occur with substance abuse and addiction. These include Schizophrenia, PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder.

Recognising a dual diagnosis

The Importance of Recovery from Addiction

Substance abuse is not defined by what type of drug you take or what alcohol you drink.

Rather, it comes down to the effects the substance has on your life and relationships. If drinking and drugs are causing you more problems, but you still continue to rely on them then you have a substance abuse problem.

At the same time, it can be equally difficult to identify a dual diagnosis and often, it takes time to tease out what mental health disorder might be fuelling your drug or alcohol problem.

Here are some general warning signs that signify a co-occurring disorder:

  • Alcohol or drugs are used to deal and cope with unpleasant past memories and feelings. Drugs or alcohol can also be used to control the pain, shift or intensity of your moods as well as helping you come face to face with frightening situations.
  • Do you feel low when you drink or use? Are you plagued by anxiety and unpleasant memories that drag you down?
  • Do these feelings of depression and anxiousness through your daily life out of balance when you are sober?
  • Have you already undergone treatment for substance abuse but failed because no mental health disorder was diagnosed?
  • Has someone in your family been dealing with a mental disorder or has abused drugs or alcohol in the past?

The role of substance abuse: mental health and addiction

Mental health and addiction disorders are closely linked, for example…

Alcohol and drugs are often used to self-medicate mental health disorders

Alcohol and drugs are often turned to ease unpleasant symptoms of undiagnosed mental disorders in order to help individuals cope with very difficult emotions or changes in their mood.

This can cause serious side effects in the long run and can often worsen symptoms that initially use substances to relieve.

Alcohol and drugs can increase the likelihood of developing mental health problems

Mental health disorders can form from your environment and other factors like substance abuse as well as a genetic disposition.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what is a direct cause of what, however, those at risk of mental health issues can be pushed over the edge when abusing alcohol or drugs.

There is evidence suggesting that opiate abusers are at a greater risk of depression as well as those who heavily abuse cannabis that is linked to an increase in schizophrenia.

Drugs and alcohol undoubtedly make mental health problems and symptoms even worse

Substance abuse may increase symptoms of mental illness and can even trigger new symptoms.

Alcohol and drugs interacting with prescribe medications like antidepressants and anxiety medication can make them less effective at treating and managing symptoms.

Dual diagnosis and denial

Severe symptoms of PTSD

It’s not at all easy to admit or get your loved one to recognise they are in denial – and that’s OK for now, but again, we’ve seen how shame has stopped people from getting the help they need and consequently suffering even more.

Denial and shame are common with addiction and mental health issues. The symptoms of these mental health disorders are frightening and do not exactly encourage you to open up and speak about how you are feeling.

If you are depressed, it’s not so easy saying it or even admitting it. This can lead many to ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

I can tell you from past experience that it doesn’t.

Substance abuse and mental health issues can happen to any one of us – admitting you have a problem is the first step.

Don’t forget!

  • There’s always hope
  • It’s important to get and stay sober
  • Relapse is part of the process
  • There is support that can help

Find the right treatment program

An integrated approach is usually the best way. This is where the substance abuse issue is treated alongside the mental disorder simultaneously.

Long-term recovery relies on receiving treatment for both of the disorders by the same place you seek treatment.

  • Treatment for substance abuse: This can include detoxification, support groups and behavioural therapies.
  • Treatment for mental health problems: This can include more specialised therapies like CBT, DBT, EMDR, 1-1 and group therapies.

Our advice

cheap rehab treatments

We help connect individuals to the right treatment programmes that will give them the best chance at recovery.

It’s probably best if you are struggling and unsure what to do to speak with us confidentially on Live Chat here, or give us a call on 0808 1150 446.

Here we will be able to tell you if rehab is likely to be the best option and advise you on the right, accredited places to go as well as clueing you up entirely about the process.

All you need to do is make a start.

Contact us here.

Last Updated on March 3, 2022 by