Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers

Dual diagnosis treatment centers are designed for men and women who are concurrently suffering from a mental illness and a substance abuse problem. But to determine whether you or someone you know could benefit from dual diagnosis treatment centers, you should first have a firm grasp on what the term dual diagnosis means.

Dual diagnosis is a co-occurring condition in which a person is simultaneously diagnosed with a severe mental illness and a substance use disorder. Integrated dual diagnosis treatment centers have been shown to work effectively for individuals with both disorders.


Drug abuse, including alcohol and prescription drugs can induce symptoms that resemble mental illness. This can make it difficult to distinguish between substance induced psychiatric syndromes and pre-existing mental health problems.

Dual diagnosis is more common than you might imagine.  According to a report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association thirty-seven percent of alcohol abusers and fifty-three percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness. Of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29 percent abuse either alcohol or drugs. Psychiatric problems that commonly occur in dual diagnosis – alongside alcohol or drug dependency – are depressive disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder; anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias; and other psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and personality disorders.

It can be very difficult to find appropriate treatment opportunities for those suffering from concurrent disorders. Most drug and alcohol rehab centers do not accept people with serious psychiatric conditions, and many psychiatric centers do not have expertise with substance abuse.

However, principles do exist for successful treatment of individuals with coexisting mental and substance-abuse disorders. Treatment of the two disorders should be integrated, not separate, and should be a collaborative decision-making process between the treatment team and the client. Recovery needs to be viewed as a marathon, not as a sprint, and methods and outcome goals should be explicit.

Individuals suffering from both mental illness and substance abuse must be allowed to improve at their own pace – it is hardly fair or reasonable to expect them to get well as quickly as someone battling just substance abuse. But this more-modest speed of recovery should in no way be a deterrent to entering treatment. Ignoring a dual disorder problem can have frightening, tragic results. Dual disorder individuals, when left untreated, have a greater propensity for violence, suicide, and homelessness.

DUAL DIAGNOSIS TREATMENT CENTERS: Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women

Well-designed dual diagnosis treatment centers for women encompass all of the aforementioned aspects of alcoholism and addiction and provides treatment for each of them. Safe Harbor Treatment Center, one of the nation’s premier dual diagnosis treatment centers for women, offers such a program. Safe Harbor’s curriculum treats alcoholism and addiction comprehensively, working through not only drug and alcohol problems, but also core psychological issues and any peripheral topics that are relevant for an individual client.

Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women and Safe Harbor’s Capella – a new, state-of-the-art facility specifically designed to help women with PTSD and trauma – are multifaceted treatment centers for women, utilizing a combination of structured therapeutic groups, individual therapy and counseling sessions, 12-step meetings, life skills development, and uplifting social activities to create a full and balanced treatment experience. Therapeutic groups cover topics like relapse prevention, body image, eating disorders and healthy relationships, as well as delving into more experiential therapeutic techniques like art therapy, hypnotherapy and psychodrama. Through these various avenues women who come to Safe Harbor jettison unhealthy old behaviors while simultaneously cultivating new ones.

Safe Harbor sets itself apart from other dual diagnosis treatment centers by its strong sense of community. Far from feeling like an institution, the residential location of Safe Harbor’s treatment center feels like a home, and the case managers and support staff like family. Many of the women who complete the 90-day treatment program choose to move into Safe Harbor’s sober living houses until they accomplish a year of sobriety, after which they often relocate permanently to the Orange County area. The result is a rich sisterhood of Safe Harbor women, always looking for an opportunity to reach out a hand to the newest member of the family.

Located in Orange County, California, Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women has the added benefit of the richest 12-step community in the world. Orange County, in particular the Newport-Costa Mesa area, holds more 12-step meetings of all varieties each week than any other neighborhood on the planet. Surrounded by this vibrant recovery community, and bathed in perpetual sunshine and ocean breezes, Safe Harbor is a haven where female addicts and alcoholics heal their wounds and rediscover themselves.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facilities

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facilities are able to help women who suffer from dual diagnosis.

A dual diagnosis is defined as someone who has a mental disorder and alcohol or drug addiction concurrently. A dual diagnosis is very common. Persons suffering from drug and alcohol problems may also show signs of depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, personality disorders, bi-polar disorder, and panic disorder. A person may develop mental health issues first and then progress, in order to cope or feel better, to abusing alcohol or drugs. In other instances, alcohol or drug abuse may lead to emotional and mental health issues.


To live a fulfilled and sober life, someone with a dual diagnosis must be treated for both conditions simultaneously.

Healing at Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facilities for women should include: detoxification from the drugs and/or alcohol, treatment for the substance abuse, a psychiatric assessment for a mental disorder, and treatment for the mental disorder. In the beginning, it may be difficult to tell if a woman suffers from an emotional disorder because many symptoms of severe substance abuse are similar other psychiatric conditions. The benefits of admitting a woman to Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facilities include: a psychiatric assessment to determine if there is an underlying psychiatric disorder; a long-term nurturing environment can be key in mental stabilization. Due to the side effects of drug and alcohol abuse, it can take several weeks or months for a true accurate assessment to be completed as both problems can be treated concurrently, the client has the time to work through issues, develop coping skills, and stabilize medication that maybe necessary for disorder.

After completion of a medical detoxification from drugs and alcohol, healing at Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facilities should include: individual and group psychotherapy, education about the disease of addiction, education and practice of healthy live skills, participation in a 12-step recovery, as well as medication management. Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women understands and excels at providing such a program at its facilities with trained staff that have a direct understanding of the impact of duel diagnosis treatment for women.

Drug Treatment facilities are only designed for people whose problems are primarily substance abuse and are generally not recommended for people who also have a mental illness. Women suffering from a dual diagnosis need to be placed in an environment that is designed with the appropriate therapies and staff, who have a full understanding of the disorders they are treating. Appropriate Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facilities for dual diagnosis clients should be staffed with licensed therapists that are educated in a variety of therapeutic approaches. Dual diagnosis clients do not respond well to confrontation and should be approached with a more gentle technique as a common characteristic of dual diagnosis clients is denial. Therapeutic staff must understand that denial is an intrinsic part of the problem and has been used as a coping strategy for most sufferers. Patients often do not have insight as to the seriousness and scope of the problem. Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facilities are able to integrate treatment modalities that improve the success of clients with a dual diagnosis.


Women often experience anxiety as a reaction to frightening situations as a result of an increase of adrenaline in the nervous system. An anxiety disorder is a disorder where feelings of fear, apprehension, or anxiety are disruptive or cause distortions in behavior and is considered a psychiatric illness that is useful for normal functioning. At times, an underlying illness or disease can cause persistent anxiety. Direct treatment of the illness or disease will stop the anxiety. Anxiety illnesses affect more than 23 million Americans with about 10 million Americans suffering from the most common, general anxiety disorder.

Anxiety can be caused by psychological factors as well. One theory is that there is an unconscious conflict between certain wishes and desires, and guilt associated with these desires. Another theory is that certain fearful childhood situations provoke anxiety later. This later theory has been associated with agoraphobia in that the fear of being abandoned in the past may lead to fear of public places. Panic disorder is treated with drugs, cognitive- behavior therapy and other forms of psychotherapy, and/or a combination of the two.


Relaxation therapy is also used in combination with other treatments for suffering women. Anxiety occurs when the person is in or thinks about being in a place where escape may be difficult or help may not be available. The condition is managed with behavioral techniques such as exposure therapy and it is believed that these techniques may be more effective than drug therapy. Anxiety can occur from exposure to a particular situation or the mere thought of being in the situation. General anxiety disorder (GAD) GAD affects two to five percent of the general population, but it accounts for almost 30 percent of psychiatric consultations in general practice. GAD is chronic or exaggerated worry and tension.

Women suffering from anxiety cannot seem to shake their concerns, seem unable to relax, have trouble falling or staying asleep, or feel lightheaded or out of breath. Some women are startled more easily than other people, and tend to feel tired, have trouble concentrating, and sometimes suffer depression. Anxiety affects people of both sexes and all ages but is diagnosed more frequently in women than in men.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facilities include a mixture of medication and counseling, finding the most useful combination for each patient. Anxiety disorders oftentimes cannot be linked to specific life events and persist for months if not years at a time. Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facilities use of Behavioral therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy can be effective for treating several of the anxiety disorders. Behavioral therapy focuses on changing specific actions and uses different techniques to alter unwanted behavior. Techniques include special breathing exercises and exposure therapy – gradually exposing women to what frightens them and helps them cope with their fears. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches women to react differently to the situations and bodily sensations that trigger panic attacks and other anxiety symptoms.

Patients also learn to understand how to change their thoughts so that symptoms are less likely to occur. These techniques are designed to help people confront their fears.

Without treatment, anxiety disorders can be extremely disabling and disrupt family, work and social relationships. Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facilities offer families a hope in treating their loved one. We at Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women specialize in dual diagnosis and will help guide you through the recovery process. Help is just one phone call away.