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Women’s Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center in California

Dual diagnosis treatment is a treatment method in which an individual is diagnosed with a mental health disorder alongside a substance use disorder (SUD). Many refer to a dual diagnosis as co-occurring disorders or co-morbidities. Dual diagnosis recovery typically involves specialized treatment since co-occurring conditions are complex with underlying issues. 

At New Directions for Women, women can get the help they need to address co-occurring disorders with our specialized dual diagnosis treatment facility.

For women battling addiction, medical professionals are challenged in diagnosing properly all associated mental illnesses alongside addiction treatment. Research shows more than half the people in addiction treatment suffer from other behavioral or mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, or a secondary addiction. At New Directions, our staff is highly trained in co-occurring disorders. We’re prepared to facilitate treatment services for the dual diagnosis faced by you or your loved one.

Dual Diagnosis

In 2019,
0 million
American adults suffered from a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder.

Of those with a mental health disorder, 1/4 suffered from a serious mental health disorder.

This is roughly 13.1 million people.

What is a Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis is any diagnosis that occurs alongside drug or alcohol abuse. It’s common for addiction and mental health to co-occur in women as they try to self-medicate the mental illness. These conditions (such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder) could be what pushed a patient into addiction or a result of substance abuse. 

Dual diagnosis can also occur as a result of an attempt to abstain from an addictive substance. It is not uncommon for people to develop substance use disorders after using drugs or alcohol to cope with the symptoms of their other mental health issue. Even though a mental health disorder like anxiety or depression may seem mild compared to alcohol or drug addiction, these co-occurring disorders can be as harmful as substance abuse. 

Research shows that co-occurring disorders such as mental health issues can be just as detrimental to one’s well-being as a severe substance abuse disorder. A dual diagnosis can be challenging to spot if there has not been a previous singular diagnosis. 

The symptoms of a mental health condition can be similar to those of a substance use disorder. Therefore, there can be confusion about the origin of symptoms and how to manage them best. At New Directions for Women, we are trained in all manner of detox, substance abuse treatment, mental health care, and other therapeutic options that best speak to a dual diagnosis recovery. 

Substance Use Disorders

A substance use disorder is diagnosed when the overuse of a substance begins to interfere with work, school, or social relationships. These conditions can also worsen secondary medical conditions such as anxiety or depression. Someone struggling with substance abuse will often go to great lengths to hide their behaviors. They’ll begin to miss work or social engagements, act secretive, and pretend nothing is wrong. These behaviors can alienate friends and family and lead to further isolation. 

Alcohol or drug dependency is a more serious condition that adds a physical reliance on a substance to the other symptoms mentioned. Many people with a dependency have failed to quit, and their bodies may be chemically dependent. This physical dependence is marked by heightened tolerance (more of a substance is needed to achieve the same chemical high) or withdrawal (extreme physical symptoms, such as seizures or fevers when substance use stops). 

Common Co-Occurring Disorders for Women

Line drawing of a woman

Some of the most common mental health disorders found in chemically dependent people are classified as mood and anxiety disorders. In addition, a high percentage of people with severe substance use disorders develop mental illness as a byproduct of their drug use. 

While there is often no consensus about which disorder developed first, mental health or drug abuse, there is no doubt that these two types of severe conditions are linked. Common categories of dual diagnoses in women are listed below. 

Eating Disorders

Many women who struggle with addiction also struggle with eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia. Often, these disorders stem from a desire to levy some control over seemingly uncontrollable behaviors.

Alcohol use disorder is commonly associated with mental illnesses. However, with eating disorders, it’s an extremely common dual diagnosis. This is because individuals feel that abusing alcohol will help regulate some of the more impulsive behaviors associated. They also believe that alcohol will suppress their appetites but this can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Mood Disorders

A mood disorder is a mental illness that affects a women’s emotions. She can experience a long period of extreme happiness, sadness, or a mix of both. Mood changes are normal for most people based on life experiences. However, when a mood is persistent for an extended period of time and affects your normal day-to-day activities such as work or home life, you may be experiencing a mood disorder. 

Mood disorders such as major depression, bipolar disorder, and dysthymia, can result from, or lead to, addictive substance use behaviors. Many commonly abused substances, such as alcohol, or other depressants. Mood disorders can be a common side effect or worsened if they already existed. 

Bipolar disorder can be an especially difficult mood disorder to manage alongside addiction treatment as medications are crucial in managing this mental health condition. Dual diagnosis treatment centers need to be prepared to pay special attention to women who are suffering from these mental health issues.

Anxiety Disorders

Occasional anxiety is very normal. However, women with anxiety disorders have severe, excessive, and consistent stress and are fearful about day-to-day situations. Regularly, anxiety disorders involve continuous feelings of serious anxiety and fear.

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health disorder. Issues that fall under this umbrella include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), general anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Anxiety disorders are more likely to appear with stimulant use, such as cocaine. 

Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder

If severe drug or alcohol abuse goes unchecked, severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder can result. These disorders are often characterized by prolonged, serious paranoia, breaks from reality, or hallucinations. There is a danger of long-term side effects with any prolonged drug abuse that can have serious psychological and physiological consequences. 

Signs of Dual Diagnosis in Women

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should ask about the possibility of a dual diagnosis:

  • Severe guilt over uncontrollable behaviors

  • Poor sleep habits or insomnia

  • Multiple relapses

  • Worsening social isolation from friends and family

  • Using drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms for anxiety, etc

  • Difficulty managing normal responsibilities such as work 

  • Development of new symptoms such as obsessive behaviors

  • Extreme mood swings

Because there can be inconsistency between cause and effect, it can be challenging to know when and how a co-occurring disorder developed. Many women enter drug rehab to treat addiction to find out that there are one or more other mental health issues present. It is highly common to be suffering from a dual diagnosis and not even know it. 

Often these co-occurring disorders manifest only after treatment has begun for a substance abuse disorder. It’s imperative to have professional help in diagnosing a co-occurring disorder so that both conditions can receive the appropriate treatment. In treating co-occurring disorders the root causes must be determined and addressed, or many patients will relapse or never conquer their issues.

Understanding the Need for Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers

Line drawing of a butterfly

Denial is a common behavior in people who have a dual diagnosis. It’s easy to neglect self-care or lose a grip on the reality of one’s circumstances when in the grips of mental health problems or substance abuse. Any number of mental illnesses common with a dual diagnosis can make someone feel like their life is not worth living or that treatment is pointless. 

Anxiety can push someone further and further from family and friends that may be a positive influence. It’s easy to get to a point where substance abuse seems like the only way to cope.  

Getting your life back on track requires hope, trust, and often, professional dual diagnosis treatment. At New Directions for Women, we understand how difficult it is to extend your trust to others, but relying on the members of your treatment team will make a successful recovery more manageable and more rewarding.

Looking for a Women’s Inpatient Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center?

There is no single treatment option that works for everyone with a dual diagnosis. The range of mental health disorders is broad, and the relationship between your psychiatric condition and your substance abuse can be complicated. Individuals who have recently used drugs or alcohol or had severe symptoms of mental illness (such as suicidal ideation or psychotic episodes) may benefit from a residential treatment program.

Residential Program for Dual Diagnosis

Residential programs provide intense, around-the-clock medical services that might be necessary for a more severe dual diagnosis disorders. These programs offer individuals who have struggled in vain or for a long time the opportunity to finally break free from their issues. Personalized care, constant support, supervision, and the comforts of home are some of the hallmarks of this type of care. 

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient care provides a high level of care without the need for constant supervision and overnight stay. Inpatient options might be appropriate if you or your loved one are physically and mentally stable enough to live at home and have a support system in place. Those in inpatient care need to be strongly dedicated to recovery. Without constant supervision, relapse becomes a real fear and possibility. 

Ideally, someone choosing outpatient care will not need detox and will have mastered many of the physical symptoms of substance abuse or their corresponding mental issues. In both settings, professional counseling, accountability, and support are paramount to success. 

Medication-Assisted Treatment and Education for Dual Diagnosis

Line drawing of a woman

Whether in an inpatient or outpatient setting, pharmacological therapy is also a key component of treatment when it comes to dual diagnosis rehab. Medications are often prescribed to stabilize moods, reduce anxiety and agitation, prevent flashbacks, or prevent hallucinations.

While medication was once discouraged in this setting, modern substance abuse and mental health professionals now understand it can be an integral part of successful treatment. Educating spouses, partners, children, and siblings about addiction and mental health is another crucial part of your recovery. 

The more informed your loved ones are about the nature of your condition, the more likely they are to support you in your recovery journey. Family counseling, 12-step meetings, and peer support groups are available for friends and loved ones who want to help you meet your recovery goals.

Therapy Available in Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs

At New Directions for Women, we offer evidence-based therapies such as group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. As part of your formal treatment program, you will be assigned several types of therapy.

All dual diagnosis treatment will include a variety of addiction treatment programs alongside other forms of therapy and medication to target mental disorders. Depending on your treatment plan you may also attend therapy options like eye movement desensitization reprocessing or motivational interviewing.

Unique Treatment for Women

It’s important to remember that any discussion about treatment unique to women is generalized. There are exceptions, and many men face similar issues and can benefit from similar treatment plans. However, meeting the treatment needs of women must always take into account:

  • Present and past relationship dynamics

  • Relationship(s) with her partner or other family members

  • Sexuality or risky behaviors

  • Parenting

For many women, relationships directly impact their self-esteem, and relationship issues can lead to a decline in self-worth. Women in these situations can feel as if they have no power or that their voice doesn’t matter. Often, there can be sexual trauma and lingering effects of harmful incidents in the past.  

Women who experience serious relational disconnect are at risk for misdiagnosis and substance abuse. There may be a family history of abandonment or abuse or a damaged family dynamic. Studies done on the unique needs of women in treatment have emphasized the following in overcoming adversities:

  • Building healthy communication strategies

  • Managing stress

  • Being assertive without getting aggressive

  • Improving problem-solving skills

Begin Your Treatment Journey at New Directions for Women Today

If you or a loved one are experiencing the effects of a mental health or substance abuse disorder, New Directions for Women is eager to help. Our professional staff has decades of experience in the treatment of mental health disorders and substance abuse. Contact us today if you are looking for a dual diagnosis treatment center in Southern California.


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Clinically Reviewed By:

Heather Black-Coyne, LMFT, CADC II, Chief Clinical Officer

Heather Black-Coyne, LMFT, CADC II, Chief Clinical Officer

Heather most recently served as the Clinical Director of a gender-specific treatment center in Huntington Beach. She is trained in both Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which serve the needs of our patients, many of whom have experienced both complex trauma and substance use disorder.

Medically Reviewed By:

Dr. Alejandro Alva, M.D., Medical Director

Dr. Alejandro Alva, M.D., Medical Director

Alejandro Alva, MD, has a focus on substance abuse and chemical dependency treatment and general psychiatric disorders. Dr. Alva earned his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton, and completed medical school at Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara School of Medicine in Mexico. He then returned to California, where he completed his psychiatric residency at the University of California, Irvine.

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