What is a dual diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis refers to people diagnosed with substance addiction who also suffer from a mental or behavioural disorder. 

When dealing with a dual diagnosis, a complex treatment programme is required, one that can address both diagnoses at the same time. People with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorder can successfully recover if they follow a customized treatment plan. Therapy and rehab treatment can be the right solution to maintaining a healthy and fulfilling life.

Mental Health Issues and Addiction

Most people with addiction can also suffer from certain mental health and behavioural disorders. In many cases, the co-occurring mental health disorder could be the cause of addictive behaviour. This occurs when people struggling with mental health disorders turn to drug consumption as a coping mechanism. Most often they believe they can quickly ease their symptoms by substance use.

Drug abuse is usually linked with certain mental health disorders like the following:

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Attention-deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
  • Eating Disorders
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

How is the brain affected by drug abuse?

As drug consumption can often be instigated by mental health issues, the vice versa is also true. Drug abuse and drug dependence can also cause different mental health problems, as the brain suffers certain changes.

Substance abuse can have various effects on the brain and when struggling with addiction, a drug user’s key brain regions can be damaged. The drug user becomes dependent and tolerant of the consumed substance over time and  some drugs are more dangerous than others and can cause permanent brain impairment after prolonged consumption. Some drugs can change the user’s behaviour in the long-term. Drug users can lose control over their actions and choices as they develop dependency on substances. These people risk losing friends, losing jobs, and hurting their loved ones. Addiction can make people behave in destructive ways which makes the quitting process difficult.

People with healthy brains can decide if the consequences of their choices are worth taking certain actions. When functioning normally, the brain rewards healthy behaviours (bonding with family and friends, taking a Pilates class, eating) with healthy serotonin and dopamine levels. For drug users it is much more complicated. Alcohol and drugs make the user feel relaxed through increased release of certain brain chemicals which may trick the user into wanting more and more of the same substance to avoid feeling anxious and stressed. Quitting suddenly leads to experiencing withdrawal symptoms, which can be difficult to manage without professional help.  

If you are struggling with drug addiction, rehab experts at Addiction Centre in London can help you start your recovery process. Ask for professional help today and you will get confidential advice and support for your journey back to a happy and healthy life. 

Types of drugs and their effect on mental and physical health

Substance consumption can affect the way the body and mind of a drug user function and can change dramatically someone’s thoughts, behaviour and feelings. When abused, both legal and illegal substances can be highly addictive. Here is a little information about the different types of legal and illegal drugs most frequently used.


Amphetamines can stimulate the central nervous system, and the user can experience feelings of euphoria, increased focus, and higher confidence. Dexedrine and Adderall can be prescribed for weight loss, sometimes depression, hyperactivity in young people, and alcohol hangovers. The illegal drugs in this class are methamphetamine and ecstasy. Trying to obtain better results in school, many students may use amphetamines. Consuming these drugs is resulting in the opposite effect than the one desired.


Cannabis has been used since the third millennium BC. People may be consuming this drug nowadays for various reasons (religious, medicinal, or recreational). 

The effects can vary from one user to another, but the most common effects include hallucinogenic sensations. The person consuming cannabis can experience a variety of adverse effects:

  • Becoming more talkative
  • Laughing with no reason
  • Feeling hungry
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Feeling sick
  • Losing focus
  • Experiencing memory loss and hallucinations
  • Feeling anxious, depressed, or paranoid


Cocaine can be found as a crystal or powder form, being extracted from coca leaves. For a while it was used as a painkiller until doctors realized the drug is highly addictive and very dangerous.

Cocaine can be injected, snorted, or smoked. The drug has short-term and long-term effects:

Some of the short-term effects include intense euphoria, dilated pupils, increased heart rate, irritability, loss of appetite, panic and psychosis, anxiety, and paranoia. 

Long-term effects include kidney, liver, brain and lung damage, hallucinations, infertility, depression, heart attack, addiction. 


DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) is a very powerful psychedelic substance. This drug is derived from certain plants that grow in Asia, South America, and Mexico. People consume DMT by smoking it, in various brews or vaporized in a pipe.


MDMA or ecstasy is a synthetic drug that affects both mood and perception. This drug has stimulant and hallucinogen effects. 

Ecstasy is known for the sensations of pleasure and increased energy it gives. The adverse effects include memory loss, depression, high blood pressure and heart rate, irascibility, and nausea. 


When consuming hallucinogenic drugs the user’s perception of reality can be completely distorted, experiencing an altered sense of time. These drugs can cause physical and psychological dependence. Some of the most used hallucinogens are ketamine, magic mushrooms, LSD, PCP, and DMT.


Heroin is among the most highly addictive drugs. The substance is derived from the resin of poppy plants. In time, heroin consumption can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms, and when injected becomes even riskier. 

The effects of heroin use can include slowed heart rate, insomnia, lethargy, severe constipation, and sedation.


Ice is a type of drug that can be smoked like cocaine. Consuming ICE can lead to a “high” sensation and increased alertness. These sensations last up to 24 hours. The physical effects on the body can be extremely severe: heart palpitations, lung and kidney disorder, brain damage, and weight loss.


As the name suggests these drugs are consumed by inhaling. This class includes sprays, solvents, nitrates, glues, spray paints and gases. 

An inhalant user can experience psychoactive effects after consuming these drugs. These products are not created to produce a high sensation, but some people used them as drugs (children and adolescents). The most used products are correction fluids, hair sprays, glue, dry-cleaning fluids, and gasoline.


Mephedrone is a synthetic drug known for its properties to enhance the user’s physical and mental function. The substance may cause serious health problems such as heart palpitations, headaches, nasal bleeding, and paranoia.

Other Illegal Drugs

Other illegal drugs include salvia divinorum, flunitrazepam and anabolic steroids. These drugs can cause confusion, sedation, hallucinations, panic, slurred speech, paranoia, and impaired motor function.

If you or someone in your family is struggling with drug addiction, it is recommended to talk with a rehab specialist as soon as possible to get professional help, based on a personalized detox treatment plan.