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What We Treat​

Dual Diagnosis: Mental Health and Addiction

Addiction as a Mental & Physical Illness

The outdated notion of addiction as a moral failing is something that all research categorically refutes. A doctor can scan the brain of someone suffering from drug addiction and see the physical differences that addiction causes. However, there is more to addiction than the idea that it’s a brain disease. This fact does not lead to negative judgment, but greater empathy that can allow treatment centers to address addiction on a deeper level.

Addiction does not correlate with moral character, but it does have a close correlation with trauma and depression. It’s easy to draw a circumstantial link between these social ills and hardships, but the evidence backs it up as well.

It is not uncommon for people struggling with addiction to also undergo mental health issues. This condition, known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders, requires specialized treatment to address both the addiction and underlying mental health issues simultaneously.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health condition and at the same time, you’re wondering whether your substance use need support or treatment, here are some signs of addiction:


  • You’ve been using higher doses of drugs for longer than initially intended.

  • You’ve been planning to quit using it, but prior attempts to quit have been unsuccessful.

  • You devote lots of time to using drugs and recovering from the effects.

  • You frequently experience strong cravings for drugs.

  • Drug use is causing you to experience problems with family, friends, school, and work.

  • Drug use has landed you in dangerous, risky situations.

  • You keep using drugs despite knowing that doing so is causing problems with family, friends, school, and work.

  • You keep using drugs despite knowing they are causing serious health problems or worsening existing health conditions.

  • You’ve stopped engaging in your favorite activities so you can use drugs instead.

  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when abruptly stopping drug use or when using smaller amounts.

  • You’ve had to use higher amounts of drugs to feel the effects.

What Qualities Make Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Effective?

Treatment programs should be customized for each patient based on their unique problems and needs given how addiction affects each person differently. Though most science-based treatments are standardized and developed in a way that makes them effective for everyone, not everyone needs the same treatments. For instance, an individual dealing with both mental health and addiction disorders may require treatments that address both conditions simultaneously. Similarly, an individual who has gone through a traumatic experience and is struggling with PTSD may need specialized treatment to help them heal from their trauma and manage their addiction.

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol addiction is generally characterized by strong urges and cravings to drink alcohol, the inability to control alcohol use, and feeling irritable or anxious when not drinking alcohol. Drinking behaviors that cause stress and harm to oneself and others may be classified as alcohol abuse or addiction. Getting treatment can help you or a loved one overcome any form of problem drinking, no matter how mild or severe the case.

Alcohol Use Disorder is Characterized by the Following Signs and Behaviors:

  • Drinking greater amounts of alcohol or drinking for longer than initially planned

  • Having unsuccessful attempts to stop drinking

  • Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking

  • Feeling strong urges and cravings to drink

  • Having problems related to family, work, or school that are being caused by drinking

  • Continuing to drink despite knowing alcohol is causing serious problems with family, friends, career, and education

  • Continuing to drink despite knowing alcohol is causing health problems, or worsening existing health problems

  • Cutting back on enjoyable activities to drink

  • Getting into dangerous situations (such as unsafe sex or drunk driving) while drinking or after drinking

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after the effects of alcohol wear off (such as shaking, anxiety, nausea, sweating, and restlessness

  • Drinking higher amounts to feel the euphoric effects of alcohol

What is Evidence-Based Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

Evidence-based and science-backed addiction treatments go through a rigorous testing process and are carefully evaluated for their safety and efficacy for the treatment of substance use disorders. These treatments are designed to address certain aspects of substance abuse and reduce its impact and consequences on the individual, their families, and their communities.

Alcohol addiction can be safely and effectively treated with a combination of behavioral therapies and pharmacotherapies (medications). Below are science-based interventions commonly used to treat alcohol addiction:


  • Medically supervised alcohol detox, which helps patients safely withdraw from alcohol while experiencing less discomfort and while facing a reduced risk of complications such as seizures

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps patients change their harmful attitudes and beliefs related to drug and alcohol use

  • Contingency management interventions, which reinforce positive behaviors such as abstinence by rewarding patients with various incentives

  • 12-step facilitation therapy, which uses 12-step self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous that promote abstinence from alcohol

  • Family behavior therapy, which helps patients and their families improve family dynamics and their home environments

  • Naltrexone — a medication that reduces alcohol cravings and blocks the rewarding effects of alcohol

  • Acamprosate — a medication that reduces long-lasting symptoms of alcohol withdrawal such as anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia

  • FDA-Approved medications for co-occurring disorders such as depression and anxiety that may be contributing to alcohol addiction

  • Disulfiram — a medication that causes unpleasant reactions when patients relapse and drink alcohol

Check Your Insurance Coverage

We work with most PPO insurance’s out-of-network benefits. Our team is happy to help you verify benefits.

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