Signs of mental illness often go undetected, especially when an individual is suffering from substance abuse. The symptoms and actions associated with substance abuse are often far more obvious, especially to friends and family.

However, it is extremely important to discuss the underlying causes of addiction. Is it only substance use disorder, or is it something else? Everyone deserves to receive the full spectrum of treatment to recover and live their best life.

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis also known as co-occurring disorders refers to when individuals experience a mental illness and substance use disorder at the same time. What happens is the two unaddressed issues will start to feed off each other, which means neglecting your mental illness may trigger substance abuse. Addressing and treating both issues is essential.

Individuals who experience a mental health condition may end up turning to alcohol or other drugs as a form of self-medication to improve their mental health symptoms that they are experiencing. However, professional researchers have shown that alcohol and other drugs will only worsen the symptoms of an individual with a mental illness. 

When it comes to dual diagnoses across the United States, there are over 10 million cases of individual adults who are experiencing both a mental illness and a substance use disorder at the same time. Here are 8 signs and symptoms to help identify when a dual diagnosis is present.

mental illness

Symptoms Of Dual Diagnosis

With so many combinations of dual diagnoses occurring, symptoms may vary significantly. Some mental health clinics are using alcohol and drug screening tools to help identify people who are at risk for drug and alcohol abuse. 

A few symptoms of substance use disorder may include:

  • Distance from friends and family
  • A sudden change in behavior
  • Abusing Using substances using even in unsafe conditions
  • Risk-taking behavior
  • The need to use taking control
  • Higher tolerance and more significant withdrawal symptoms
  • Unable to function without the preferred drug

Although these are a few symptoms of substance abuse, mental illness condition symptoms may vary significantly. Some signs may include extreme mood changes, problems concentrating or confused thinking, being distant from friends and social activities, or thoughts of suicide. 

At any point, for whatever reason, they may approach you to seek help, and it’s essential to know the signs like a sudden change in behavior. It is of greatest importance to never self diagnose yourself and it is very important to speak with a dual diagnosis or addiction treatment specialist. 

Using Drugs and Alcohol to Escape Psychological Problems

People will find themselves turning to drugs to escape their psychological problems triggered By lifestyle changes such as divorce or break up or even a loss of a job. They’ll find themselves using drugs to suppress stress or conceal sadness, but only temporarily. 

Once the individual begins to sober up, they may experience anxiety and panic attacks and become mentally right back at where they started before they used. If you find your emotional distress so high, that’s the only way to escape it is to use drugs and alcohol, then you may have a mental illness like depression.

Mental Health Warning Signs

The different symptoms of a mental disorder will vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. The more general symptoms of mental illness may include:

Signs of Mental illness in Adults

  • Confusing thoughts
  • Sad or irritable 
  • Moods that peak and valley
  • Fearful, worrying or overly anxious
  • Socially withdrawn 
  • Different pattern in eating or sleeping habits
  • Feeling angrier regularly 
  • Becoming unable to cope with daily living and problems 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Denying your problems 
  • Excessive use of alcohol and drug

Signs of Mental illness in Older Children and Pre-teens:

Signs your children or pre-teen may have a mental illness include:   

  • Unable to cope with daily living and problems
  • Different pattern in eating or sleeping habits
  • School performance suffering
  • Complaining of physical issues
  • Fear to gain weight
  • Feeling depressed which brings loss of appetite and sometimes suicidal thoughts
  • Anger outbursts
  • Excessive use of alcohol and drugs
  • Disengaging from friends 

It is important to be in tune with yourself and document any of the feelings you may have that are included in the list above. Here are some indicators that you should note. 

History of Mental Illness

History of mental illness does tend to run in families, but the correlation between mental illness being genetic is not as bright as you may expect.

Although there are researchers who have found genetic underpinnings to mental health disorders, there is not a specifically direct one-to-one correlation.

Many people have a relative who is mentally ill, yet they do not have a mental illness. Although exposure to mental illness in a person’s childhood could dramatically increase your vulnerability to meant to illness, this may happen even if you aren’t genetically predisposed to mental illness.

The children of mentally ill parents may see and learn a variety of unhealthy coping skills, which will make them vulnerable to subsequently developing a case of mental illness. 

A powerful indicator that you will need a dual diagnosis treatment will be a prior history of a diagnosed mental illness. Signs of mental illness will not just go away on their own. To recover, you must enlist the help of an experienced intensive mental health professional at a rehabilitation center. 

If there was a time in your life that you were given a mental health diagnosis, the odds are that this will still be affecting your life. This may be one of the reasons why you find yourself using drugs to cope with the stress and anxieties of life

Trying to Quit The Drug Makes You Angry, Suicidal, or Violence

The withdrawal process is taxing for everyone, but it only gets worse the longer you are using. While detoxing, you’ll have feelings of anger, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating which is very routine. If you do feel though as if you are losing control and cannot tolerate another second, then it may be time to get professional help. Some common withdrawal symptoms for people with a mental illness will include:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Harmful to yourself
  • Dreams of traumatic events from the past
  • Feeling fearful
  • Very hostile and aggressive to anybody causing friction

Consequences of a dual-diagnosis may include:

  • Physical health declining
  • Suicide risk
  • Aggression risk 
  • Sexual behavior risk
  • No longer taking medications
  • Legal issues with the law including incarceration
  • Troubled relationships
  • Trouble with home and financial stability

Drugs Make You Feel Like Yourself

People start to use drugs to escape their everyday stress or to experience something new. But continued drug use will suddenly shift your mind into thinking that you’re taking drugs to feel normal. You have now become dependent on them, and you may find that you have an underlying mental illness. Here is a list of a few different drugs that affect your different moods:

  • Although many drugs can serve as self-medication, the drug of choice may provide an insight into the mental illness that you have. For example, stimulants like cocaine and meth are regularly used amongst people with ADHD, depression, and seasonal depression disorder.
  • Drugs like benzodiazepines, which include Xanax, Ambien, and Ativan, are usually used amongst people with anxiety disorders.
  • For the people with symptoms of psychosis, they may find themselves cycling through several different varieties of drugs to alleviate their symptoms.

How Is Dual Diagnosis Treated?

The best way to treat a dual diagnosis is with an integrated intervention, which is when a person receives care for both their diagnosed mental illness and also their substance abuse.

Your treatment professional should help you understand the ways that each condition will affect the other one and how your customized treatment will be the most effective for you. Every treatment plan will be personal to the individual with some of these conventional methods that are used as part of the treatment process:


Inpatient detoxification will generally be more effective than outpatient rehab for the initial sobriety and safety of the individual. During inpatient detox, a trained medical professional will watch the individual 24/7, up to seven days until the process is complete. The medical professionals will decide if administering a tampered amount of the substance or its therapeutic alternative will be necessary for lessening the effects of withdrawal. 

Inpatient Rehabilitation

Individuals that are experiencing mental illness and dangerous drug addiction may benefit from an inpatient rehab center where they can receive medical and mental illness care 24/7. The rehab facility will provide therapy, support, medication, and health services to treat substance disorder and their underlying causes.

Supportive Housing

There are group or sober homes for individuals who suffer from a dual diagnosis. These centers will provide support and independence and will offer varying levels of quality care from licensed professionals.


This will be a large part of an effective dual diagnosis treatment plan. The cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) Will assist people with Dual diagnosis is to learn how to cope and change there and productive patterns of thinking, which may increase the risk of substance-using again.


Certain medications may be helpful for individuals who experience substance use disorders to allow them to ease their withdrawal symptoms during their detox process, which will promote healthy recovery.

Self-Help and Support Groups

Support groups will allow their members to share their frustrations, celebrating successes, and provide recovery tips. They will also provide a meet up to form healthy relationships with encouraging individuals who encourage you to stay clean.

Get Help for Alcohol Addiction Today! Contact Ken Seeley Rehab Today!

If any of these symptoms sound familiar it’s time to get help. Don’t ever self diagnose yourself and it is very important to speak with a dual diagnosis or addiction treatment specialist. 

Here at Ken Seeley Rehab, we are here to help you in your path to recovery. We specialize in individual treatment and counseling to reach a place of healing and sobriety. 

We understand that no two people recover in the same way or in the same timeframe. Our expertise and careful attention to detail will assist with the recovery process that you need. 

Contact Ken Seeley Rehab today!



0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *