12 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
Fact checked

Six out of 10 people who have an addiction to gambling also have a mental health issue. Co-existing disorders is the term used by medical professionals to refer to these disorders. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to co-existing illnesses, and the changes brought on by these disorders can be upsetting for both parents and children. Identifying the causes of an adolescent’s behavioral changes can be difficult when substance use and psychosocial factors are involved.

Is their irritation a sign of anything more serious? Is it a side effect of drug abuse? Managing your child’s safety & health requires keeping a watch out for indicators of co-existing diseases and understanding how these issues might generate new problems or hamper care.

Adolescent substance misuse can be treated in a variety of ways, including family counseling, group sessions, personal psychotherapy, and hospital treatment. The form of treatment chosen must be suitable for the disorder that a youngster is suffering from. Any co-existing issues and other health conditions that the patient may have should be taken into account throughout treatment. The first step in treating co-existing disorders is determining whether symptoms are caused by mental health issues, drug usage, and which condition has arisen. These are what are referred to as diagnostic criteria. It’s an important consideration because treatment for a psychiatric disease differs greatly from treatment for an alcohol or drug addiction. To assess the condition, physicians will depend on documents from the patient, relatives, instructors, and other physicians, as well as their findings. This will help them assess the situation and determine the best course of action.

Addiction is a chronic condition in which a person’s urges for a substance are out of control. Adolescent drug addiction implies that your child will continue to pursue drugs despite the negative effects. Many addicts desire to stop using but are unable to do so because their neurochemistry has altered, making them need their drug more than anything else. Often, the only way to recover from this sickness is to go to rehabilitation, where kids are engaged in daily treatment and unable to get narcotics.

Mental illness is a long-term sickness that affects a child’s cognition, conduct, emotions, relations, and capacity to participate in society. There are around 200 different types of mental diseases. Though each has its own set of symptoms, they are all harmful to a child’s health. Half of many mental problems begin before the age of fourteen, making the teenage years an important period to seek help.

Teen years are mostly a time of experimenting, including alcohol and drug experience and exposure. While teenage drug use may not always lead to dependence, because the adolescent brain is still developing, it can have lengthy cognitive and behavioral consequences. Furthermore, drug use during adolescence is an indicator of future substance dependence or addiction.

About fifty percent of all new drug addicts start using drugs before they reach the age of eighteen. The following are some of the most typical reasons why teenagers start using drugs:

  • The influence of others
  • Tension
  • Challenges in the family
  • Psychological anguish
  • Escapism
  • Inquisitiveness

Addiction to alcohol or drugs can have a long-term impact on a person’s life. As a result, seeking therapy as soon as feasible is critical.

Co-existing disorders develop when a teenager has both a mental health condition and a substance abuse problem. Comorbid conditions or a dual diagnosis are other terms for the same thing.

A co-existing drug use problem affects up to 45% of teenagers and young adults with mental conditions, and three-fifths or more of kids with substance abuse problems also have a mental health condition.  Anxiety and depression disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are the most frequent mental health illnesses, but borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder can also occur.

Residential Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center in Spain

Abuse of drugs and alcohol co-occurring with physical, emotional, and behavioral changes are common outcomes of dual diagnosis disorders. The variety and severity of symptoms, on the other hand, maybe determined by the age group, substance of abuse, and environmental and genetic factors. Stimulants can create dissatisfaction, weariness, and weakness of muscle as side effects. Opioids can cause drowsiness, disorientation, a lack of appetite and concentration, as well as dilated pupils and stomach pain. The following are some of the lifestyle factors that might arise as a result of substance abuse:

  • The loss of interest in sports or games
  • Attitude shifts
  • Mood swings or argumentativeness
  • Irritability, rage, or recklessness
  • Idleness or a lack of motivation
  • The dynamics of relationships are shifting.
  • Failure to complete assignments or finish a course of study
  • Attempting to participate in high-risk behavior.
  • Closing the doors, isolating oneself, or refusing to attend family events
  • Progressively increasing vulnerabilities to mishaps
  • Stealing or borrowing money or personal property

A co-existing condition or dual diagnosis is when you have a drug addiction issue as well as mental health problems like anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression. It’s never easy to cope with substance misuse, alcohol abuse, or drug dependency, and it is considerably worse when you’re simultaneously dealing with mental illnesses.

Both the mental health problem and the alcohol or drug dependence have their own manifestations in co-existing disorders, which can interfere with your ability to perform at work or school, have a normal family life, deal with life’s challenges, and connect to others. The situation is further compounded by the fact that co-existing disorders have an impact on one another. When a mental health issue is left ignored, the substance addiction problem tends to worsen. And, as a result of increased drug/alcohol usage, mental health issues tend to rise as well.

Most people are unaware that co-existing substance abuse and mental health difficulties are more prevalent than they think. The Journal of the American Medical Association released the following reports:

  • Substance misuse affects around 50 percent of people with severe mental illnesses.
  • At least one significant mental disease is present in 37 % of alcoholics and 53 % of drug addicts.
  • A total of 29 percent of those labeled as mentally unwell abuse drugs and alcohol.

Although it’s true that ignoring drug abuse and mental health concerns won’t make them go away—in fact, they are more likely to get worse—also it is vital to realize that you do not have to think this way. There are steps you can take to overcome your problems, mend your relations, and get back on track. You can manage a co-existing disorder, recover your self-image, and also get your life on track with the proper assistance, self-help, and therapy.

While one does not always cause the other, substance addiction and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are frequently related. Methamphetamine and  Marijuana abuse can lead to long-term psychotic reactions, while binge drinking can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Also:

Increased risk of self-medication with alcohol and narcotics use is common in the treatment of mental health issues. Individuals routinely abuse drugs or alcohol to alleviate the symptoms of an untreated mental illness, cope with uncomfortable emotions, or alter their mood momentarily. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, however, has negative side effects and, in the long term, typically exacerbate the symptoms it was intended to alleviate.

Abuse of drugs and alcohol can raise the risk of mental illness. It is hard to establish whether substance abuse causes mental health problems because they are produced by a complex combination of environment, genetics, and other variables. Abusing drugs or alcohol, on the other hand, may drive you over the edge if you are in danger of a mental health problem. For example, there is available data that persons who overuse opiate medicines are more likely to develop depression, and frequent cannabis use has been related to a higher risk of schizophrenia.

Abuse of drugs and alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of a mental health disorder. Substance abuse can exacerbate or even cause new signs and symptoms of mental illness. Antidepression drugs, antianxiety medication, and mood stabilizers can all interfere with drug or alcohol abuse, making them less efficient at treating symptoms and prolonging treatment.

The initial step in managing co-existing illnesses is figuring out which symptoms are related to mental health and which are related to substance abuse, as well as which condition came earlier. Differential diagnosis is the term for this practice. This is a crucial step because the therapy for a mental health problem and a substance abuse problem might be very different. Clinicians will make an assessment based on information from the individual, families, teachers, and other professionals, as well as their own investigations. This will aid them in making a diagnosis and deciding on the best way to proceed.

Integrated care, which treats both substance abuse and mental health simultaneously is the most efficacious treatment option for co-existing disorders. An interdisciplinary team of specialists, including a psychologist, psychiatrist, social services, and therapists, develops and implements an integrated treatment plan that treats both illnesses’ mental, emotional, and physical symptoms.

Therapy, medicine, or a mixture of the two may be used to treat co-existing disorders. The following is a list of treatment options that might help your adolescent recover:

  • Drugs and Alcohol Detoxification
  • Medical management of  Addiction
  • Psychiatry Medication
  • Family Therapy Medical Attention
  • Psycho-education
  • Psychotherapy
  • Management of Cases
  • Programs for Self-Help
  • Other social services, such as community integration and well-being modalities such as meditation or yoga, are also available.

It’s critical that teenagers receive treatment for their problems. There might be challenges to recovery when you have a dual diagnosis (two illnesses at the same time). These can include, for example:

  • Addiction therapy does not provide kids with appropriate coping mechanisms to use instead of turning to alcohol and drugs when life becomes difficult.
  • Teenagers did not undergo psychotherapy to investigate prior traumas or other traumatic events that might have triggered drug use and contributed to mental illness.
  • Other therapies that a kid may require to recover from a psychiatric disease that may be the root of addiction are not available through addiction therapy.

A teen’s life is more likely to be restored to health if they have access to a comprehensive spectrum of dual diagnosis treatment programs. Psychotropic medicine, for example, can help a teen’s brain chemicals level out, resulting in a more stable mood. If a kid is on psychiatric drugs, he or she will likely visit their psychiatrist at least once per month to confirm that the medicine is effective.

Family therapy is often advised as part of a teenager’s complete dual diagnosis treatment since mental illness and addiction can have a negative impact on family connections. Teenagers can also participate in support networks such as 12-step sessions and other programs that connect them with others who are dealing with similar diseases. It’s vital to remember that treatment entails more than just drug counseling, medicine, psychotherapy, and support networks. Teenagers should be motivated to involve in self-soothing and caring activities such as bathing, walking, sharing time with loved ones, yoga, and/or prayer. Teenagers may require leisure activities like trekking, going to the cinema, playing games, or even taking a day-long family vacation as part of treatment. In rehabilitation, it is just as crucial for teenagers to have fun as it is to explore, learn, and transform.

The following are some of the therapies that are frequently recommended:

  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) aims to change harmful behaviors, improve mental control, and establish positive coping mechanisms.
  • Trauma-Focused CBT (TF-CBT) – Addresses the unique requirements of children and teens suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other traumatic life events.
  • Motivational rewards and incentives are used to promote beneficial behavioral changes in relapse prevention.
  • DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) concentrates on social and emotional components to assist people to manage their emotions and destructive habits.
  • Motivational interviewing (MI) focuses on overcoming ambivalent sentiments and anxieties in order to find the internal desire to modify undesirable habits.
  • Multisystem Therapy (MST) is a familial and community-based practice that focuses on the families and lives of adolescents, as well as their schools and instructors, their neighborhoods, and friends.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) combines accepting and meditation tactics with dedication and behavior change approach to develop acceptance and commitment.
  • You are a crucial part of the therapy process as a family member or parent/guardian. Family therapy is frequently used to involve the family in managing challenging symptoms and supporting recovery progress.

These one-of-a-kind programs cater to teenagers who have been diagnosed with both substance abuse and mental health issues. Individuals get integrated care for both conditions at the same time. Through high-quality, culturally relevant programming, we serve a varied population.

We help teenagers aged 13 to 18 who don’t need twenty-four-hour surveillance and treatment to stay safe in the community but have mental health or drug abuse issues.

Assessment. A thorough evaluation is a crucial initial step in identifying a correct diagnosis and the appropriate course of treatment for every individual. In order to obtain the most precise data available, families are also invited to participate in the evaluation process.

Several Programs are usually offered.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment. Every workday, Intensive Outpatient Treatment comprises 4 hours of group counseling and 2 hours of academic teaching. Developing coping skills, effective communication, cognitive-behavioral methods, dialectical behavioral skill sets, prevention of relapse, psychosocial interventions, and additional tailored treatment as needed are all part of therapy. Patients receive individual counseling as well as weekly group therapy sessions with their loved ones. Medication administration is handled by our on-site psychiatric practitioner.

Treatment with a Medium Intensity. The Medium Intensity Treatment program comprises 2 hours of group sessions 3 days a week after school. Coping skills training, effective communication, cognitive-behavioral methods, dialectical behavioral skills, relapse prevention, psychoeducation, and additional tailored treatment as needed are all part of therapy. Patients also receive weekly individual counseling and medication management from our on-site psychiatric physician. The patients in this program are enrolled in and attend community school.

Continuing Medical Attention. Patients who have finished a primary treatment program might benefit from our Continuing Care program, which helps them sustain the new behaviors they learned throughout therapy. Family, individual, and group counseling may be part of this planned approach.

Participation of the family. Our program places a strong emphasis on family involvement. Family members are encouraged to engage in the diagnostic and treatment process to help patients improve their mental health and understand the negative impact that chemical use has had on their life. Throughout the treatment process, we encourage open communication and assist families in learning how to best support their kids.

The Care Provider Team. The multidisciplinary team may include the following individuals:

  • Religious authorities for those families who desire spiritual healing
  • Supervisors of clinical sites
  • Managers
  • Licensed Drug and alcohol counselors
  • Licensed Psychotherapists
  • Administrators
  • Nurse Practitioners are professionals who specialize in helping people.
  • Associates in psychiatry
  • Psychiatrists
  • Nurses with a license to practice
  • A therapist who specializes in rehabilitation

Treatment for co-existing illnesses in teenagers is frequently more difficult than treating mental illness or addiction alone. This is because the illnesses have been growing off of each other, increasing the effects of the others. No matter how bad the challenges are, healing is possible for everyone; the key is to obtain the correct support. When a child has a dual illness, a comprehensive treatment program is often the best way to get them back on track.

For individuals with co-existing disorders, integrated dual diagnosis therapy has been shown to be helpful, since it encourages them to make small improvements in all aspects of their lives. Teenagers with drug abuse issues used to be restricted to rehabilitation institutions that exclusively dealt with their addictions. The integrated technique, on the other hand, mixes mental illness and drug misuse therapy so that kids acquire strategies to restore from both issues at the same time.

An adolescent who has been consuming alcohol whenever their anxiety levels increase, for instance, will have to confront their anxiety face-on. As a result, the teenager’s desire for alcohol will be reduced.

Mental illness is commonly treated with medication. Because the mental disease can obscure the indications of drug misuse, treating mental issues makes it simpler to investigate substance abuse problems. If an adolescent has anxiety and is also dependent on drugs, for instance, their treatment team may prescribe a modest sedative to help them feel better. Cocaine addiction signs become obvious and maybe handled more successfully when their anxiety symptoms are decreased.


The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.


a successful and proven concept focusing on underlying causes


0 Before

Send Admission Request

0 Before

Define Treatment Goals

1 week

Assessments & Detox

1-4 week

Psychological & Holistic Therapy

4 week

Family Therapy

5-8 week


12+ week

Refresher Visit

Dual Diagnosis Insights

latest news & research on Dual Diagnosis


British Psychology Society
Institute de terapia neural
pro mesotherapie
Somatic Experience


Woman & Home
National World
American Banker
Marie Claire
La Nacion
Metro UK
General Anzeiger
Live Science
Mallorca Magazin
Apartment Therapy
Express UK
Manager Magazin
Entrepreneur ME
Khaleej Times
Business Leader
The Guardian
Daily Mail
Mallorca Zeitung
Mirror Uk
The Times
The Standard
The Stylist