Dual Diagnosis

What exactly is dual diagnosis?

Dual Diagnosis

What exactly is dual diagnosis?


If you have a mental health problem (such as depression or bipolar disorder) as well as an addiction disorder (for example, gambling, alcohol or sex), then you will qualify for dual diagnosis treatment.

Dual diagnosis was a term originally coined by the Americans back in the eighties to describe those with psychotic illnesses who also had an addiction to drugs or alcohol. These days, however, it is used to help define and diagnose those with both a mental health and addiction disorder. Other terms also used, which you may come across on your dual diagnosis journey, are: co-morbidity, co-occurring illnesses or dual disorder.

How can we help you treat dual diagnosis

At Red Umbrella, our advice and experience will enable you to find the right treatment for dual diagnosis. Our team have personal experience of dual diagnosis issues and will ensure that you make the right recovery choice.

Call us now on +44 (0)300 002 0061, or send us a message, so that we can advise you on integrated treatment programmes for your unique set of dual diagnosis symptoms.

How common is dual diagnosis?

According to a research paper from DrugScope, UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC) and the Centre for Mental Health, a study funded by the Department of Health showed that the majority of people with a mental health disorder in the UK also have drug or alcohol disorders. 

The paper reported that: 

  • 75% of users of drug services and 85% of users of alcohol services were experiencing mental health problems.
  • 30% of the drug treatment population and over 50% of those in treatment for alcohol problems had “multiple morbidity”.
  • 38% of drug users with a psychiatric disorder were receiving no treatment for their mental health problem.
  • 44% of mental health service users either reported drug use or were assessed to have used alcohol at hazardous or harmful levels in the past year. 

It isn’t just a problem in the UK. It is thought that nearly three-quarters of alcohol or substance abusers in Australia also have a mental illness; and in the US, it is estimated that around 17.5 million adults have mental health problem, with 4 million of these also suffering with alcohol or drug addiction. 

As you can see, dual diagnosis disorders are extremely common. But as they have only been recognised fairly recently, many people over the years have not been treated correctly – leading to years of relapse and disappointment – because mental and addiction disorders have historically been dealt with separately. 

At Red Umbrella, we can help you find integrated treatment for your own personal combination of mental health and addiction disorders.

Why treatment can be hard to find

eeking treatment for dual diagnosis is complicated for three main reasons. The first is down to the difficulty of identifying the underlying mental health and addiction disorders; the second is because integrated treatment is relatively new; and the third is due to the intense challenge surrounding the effective management of combined disorders. 

    For dual diagnosis sufferers, it is difficult to identify exactly what the problems are, and which one came first. For example, did your depression lead you to start depending on alcohol or marijuana, or was it your alcohol or marijuana addiction that triggered your depression?
    Substance abuse can also heighten a mental disorder, for example, smoking marijuana could also bring on a psychotic episode, which could include delusions and hallucinations, and sustained use could provoke the continuation of psychotic symptoms.
    Because the recognition of dual diagnosis and integrated programmes are relatively new, it is not easy to find the right prognosis and therefore the correct treatment. As many public services do not overlap the conditions will often be dealt with separately, without necessarily taking the other into account.
  3. As awareness grows, however, more and more clinics and treatment centres are offering integrated dual diagnosis programmes that can handle the various combinations of mental health and addiction disorders.
    The management of dual diagnosis sufferers can be more challenging because the range of resulting behaviours can be greater and more severe. Self-harm, violence, risk of suicide and non-compliance with treatment programmes are just a few that complicate and hinder the treatment process.
    Because managing dual diagnosis is so difficult, the last thing you need is to be on the wrong treatment programme or disappointed with the range of therapy offered – especially having finally made a tough decision to get professional help.

We are here to help, whatever the problem.

Depression, Bullying, Anxiety, Gambling, Fear of Job/career prospects, Alcohol Use Disorder (drink at work and post drinking hangovers), Eating disorders, Panic attacks, Bereavement, Substances (illegal and prescribed), Bipolar, OCD, PTSD, Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD), General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder.