What Does Dual-diagnosis Mean?

In basic terms, a dual diagnosis means that a patient has more than one illness that is being treated at the same time. A person suffering from drug addiction often struggles with some form of other mental illness, like anxiety disorder or moderate to severe depression. A physical illness combined with a mental disorder can lead to a patient having a dual diagnosis so that both illnesses may be treated simultaneously.

In most cases, one illness will lead to the second illness. For example, someone who struggles with an eating disorder (the psychological illness) may start to abuse stimulant drugs like cocaine in an attempt to keep losing weight (the physical illness). Or alternatively, the abuse of drugs over a long term can lead to a form of mental illness due to the drugs altering the brain function and responses.

It is vital that both illnesses be treated together because one will always offset the second. If you treat only one, then the other will cause a guaranteed relapse of some sort, depending on which one isn’t treated. Finding a dual diagnosis facility to assist the patient can be the difference between a much-improved outlook on life or constant failure to have a full recovery.

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

The first step in treating a person with a co-occurring illness is to detox the patient in a safe environment to remove the drugs in their bodies. From there the real rehabilitation can begin in the form of counselling and programs specifically designed to suit each individual patient. Behavioural modification therapies can be useful in altering thought patterns and behaviours, assisting in the treatment of both disorders.

This means that individual treatment plans can be amended or adapted to better treat two different illnesses instead of just one. Some facilities only assist in the drug rehabilitation and then send the patient to a mental health hospital to have further treatment. But most patients prefer to look for an establishment that will treat both illnesses at the same facility.

Dual-Diagnosis Success

Dual diagnosis patients are very difficult to treat because symptoms may overlap or may indicate a different problem than expected. And if not treated properly, will lead to future relapse. One patient who is treating a drug addiction only may have a long road ahead to full recovery, but a patient with a dual diagnosis may take even longer, spanning into years of therapy and treatment.

That said, many people have been successfully treated and are now living happy and productive lives. With the help of the right facility and staff and the correctly prescribed medication, a person with a dual diagnosis can look forward to living a happy life with the people they love.

We do addiction treatment well, and we can help you.

We exist to inspire you, to support and to equip you to lead the life you can. We are devoted to making it possible for you to be happy and fulfilled.

That’s what we do, that’s why we come to work every day and that is our commitment to every person who comes to us. We do not judge, we do not blame, we only lend a hand to empower you.

Most importantly, you WILL get your life back and you WILL be able to rebuild strong, healthy relationships with your loved ones!

Nurture Health Recovery and Wellness Facilities in South Africa

Bloemfontein, Free State

Nurture Woodlands

Recovery and Wellness Facility

051 412 3300


Nurture Health South Africa, physical rehabilitation and psychiatric hospital

Nurture Health Recovery and Wellness Hospitals are Nurture Health facilities and exist to inspire, support and equip patients to lead happy and fulfilled lives.

Find out more about Nurture Health and the other Nurture Health Hospitals in South Africa.

Nurture Health Recovery and Wellness Facilities are registered with the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare. They are also members of the National Hospital Network and the Psychiatric Focus Forum.