A dual diagnosis refers to someone who abuses alcohol or drugs and has received a diagnosis of some form of mental illness or co-occurring substance use disorder (SUD).
Some of the most common mental health disorders that accompany substance abuse include bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), major depressive disorder and dysthymia disorder. When examined by a mental health professional, the client is found to have two very distinct disorders that can be treated separately.
Many times, the symptoms of substance abuse can mimic mental health disorders. Many individuals will self-medicate, which leads to a vicious cycle of drug and alcohol addiction accompanied by depression or mania.