Dual Diagnosis Disorders

Mental illness and addiction are closely related. Addiction increases the risk of mental illness, and those with mental health disorders are more likely than others to develop a substance abuse problem. The symptoms of addiction are even similar to the beginning signs of mental illness, making co-occurring disorders harder to spot and treat. When either goes unnoticed, it becomes more difficult to get people the help they need to truly recover.

At NorthStar Transitions, our treatment center near Denver, Colorado, is a safe harbor designed to help those dealing with co-occurring disorders heal from addiction and mental illness. We know that if drug and alcohol dependency masks a co-occurring condition, the restorative effects of rehab may be short-lived — underlying mental health and personality disorders would continue to trigger relapse and waylay even the most earnest commitment to recovery. But our evidence-based programs are designed to get to the root of the problem, empowering clients to restore their personal lives and repair family relationships disrupted by substance misuse and addiction so they can achieve real, lasting recovery.

Dual-Diagnosis Conditions

  • Mental illness
  • Depression
  • Panic disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Extreme anxiety
  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
  • Eating disorders


Mental health disorders that co-occur with addiction can manifest in different ways, and both conditions may emerge in the teen years when it is common for young people to distance themselves from family and experiment with risky behaviors. In other cases, adults may develop late-onset disorders and begin using drugs or alcohol to numb the pain or manage the symptoms of a dual diagnosis.

Sometimes, the effects of certain drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine or alcohol can even mimic the signs of mental illness, and individuals may not be aware of an underlying condition until they seek help for substance abuse.

Once drug and alcohol misuse is recognized, however, treating it becomes the main focus and the root cause may be overlooked by family, friends and even some professionals. But unless contributing factors like mental illness are treated at the same time as addiction, a cycle of recovery and relapse may begin that is difficult to end without proper dual diagnosis care in an accredited treatment facility.

That’s why treating both conditions together is essential for sustainable, long-term recovery. If left untreated, mental health symptoms will persist and significantly lower the chances of treatment success. To make real, meaningful progress toward a healthier life, clients need to learn how their conditions are related and develop better ways of managing triggers, stressors and symptoms without drugs or alcohol.

At NorthStar Transitions, our dual diagnosis program is designed to do just that — help clients achieve lasting recovery with integrative care that treats both mental health and addiction. By combining individualized support with proven modalities, our goal is to empower clients with the skills and tools they’ll need to work through co-occurring disorders and move past the underlying cause of their addictive behavior.


Dealing with a mental health condition isn’t easy. Symptoms can be highly disruptive to normal functioning and interfere with the ability to manage the stresses, demands and responsibilities of daily life. Even getting out of bed can become a challenge, causing trouble at work or school, interpersonal conflict and a decreased quality of life.

To cope, some turn to drugs or alcohol to alleviate their symptoms. While this may help for a short time, self-medicating only provides temporary relief while worsening the underlying condition. Drugs and alcohol have a considerable impact on the brain, with adverse effects that distort mood, thinking and behavior. With long-term use, side-effects such as anxiety, depression and paranoia can compound existing symptoms or trigger new ones, making it harder to end the cycle of substance abuse and mental illness.

To help clients overcome a dual diagnosis, we utilize a number of evidence-based modalities and behavioral therapies tailored to the specific needs of each individual. Delivered in a supportive setting and combined with comprehensive assessments that identify the underlying factors behind drug or alcohol misuse, we’re able to provide a highly therapeutic experience that addresses the full scope of each client’s mental, physical and emotional health needs. Some of the techniques we use in our curriculum include:

Our clinical programming is also enriched by a thriving recovery community where clients can find support among their peers and participate in a variety of healthy, sober activities in the Denver area. As clients move through our continuum of care, they’re also encouraged to seek out educational and employment opportunities, attend 12-step meetings and explore new hobbies or interests as they gain more freedom and independence. Our goal is to help clients not just get sober but to thrive in recovery, setting them up for lifelong success that endures beyond our program.

On-Site Licensed Clinical Staff

NorthStar Transitions was founded to help clients navigate a life of recovery and move beyond addiction. A key part of this transformational process is discovering the unique challenges faced by each client and helping them acquire the skills they’ll need for sustainable recovery. Upon admission to NorthStar Transitions, clients are evaluated for co-occurring disorders that may contribute to substance dependency by our highly trained staff of addiction professionals. Our team also includes a dedicated support staff, licensed clinicians and a board-certified addiction psychiatrist to ensure each client gets the care they need to make real-life recovery possible.

For most dual-diagnosis evaluations, the NorthStar clinical team manages client medications and provides necessary therapy for a successful experience in our Denver rehab. When a co-occurring disorder or mental illness is outside our scope of practice, we refer clients to a qualified area specialist for treatment that meets their needs. We know there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach to recovery, so referrals are tailored to each individual depending on their initial assessments.

Finding Recovery & Health in the Rocky Mountains

At NorthStar Transitions, we know how drug and alcohol use can negatively affect your life. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, we can help. Reach out today to find the support you need to achieve and maintain lifelong sobriety. You can get in touch by calling us at 866-407-2240 or completing our online contact form.

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