Comorbidity and Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis and Comorbidity

Are you concerned that you, or someone you care about, may be suffering from dual diagnosis or co-existing mental health concerns & addiction issues?

What is Dual Diagnosis or Cormorbidity?

Comorbidity is the medical term used to describe the presence of two (or more) diseases in the same person at one time. Dual diagnosis is a commonly used term meaning that a person has co-existing or co-ocurring mental health and substance use disorders or problems.

Often when a person is struggling with addiction issues there may be a co-occuring mood disorder such as depression that has fueled the development of, or exacerbated, the substance use issues, or vice versa. This results in people having problems related to both their substance use issues and their mental illness.

Both clinical practice and research have established that the high prevalence of coexisting mental illness and substance use disorders is a growing concern in the mental health field in Australia and overseas. This is evidenced by national and state based policy initiatives to address these complex problems.

Dual Diagnosis (or comorbid mental illness and substance use disorders) presents a complex set of challenges to the treatment team as people with dual diagnosis need a high degree of clinical expertise and a specialised treatment approach to address their co-occuring problems effectively, in order to support sustainable long term recovery.

South Pacific Private is a treatment centre that specialises in treating co-occuring mental illness and substance use disorders at the same time, by the same group of clinicians, within the same treatment program.


Co–occuring Conditions

Mental illness

Substance Abuse

•        Anxiety

•        Depression

•        Bipolar

•        Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

•        Psychosis

•        Personality Disorders

•        Pathological Gambling

•        ADHD

•        Chronic Pain (Physical pain impacting mental health)


•        Alcohol

•        Cannabis

•        Opioids

•        Stimulants (Cocaine/Amphetamines)

•        Hallucinogen

•        Benzodiazepines

•        Inhalants / Solvents

•        Nicotine

•        Prescription medication



What are the problems that are caused by dual diagnosis, or cormorbid conditions?

People with dual diagnosis struggle with the problems associated with both the mental illness and the substance use disorders, as outlined on the relevant pages on our website, and in addition there are extra problems associated such as:

•        Increased risk of illness and injury (including suicide and self-harm)

•        Complicated issues causing poorer psychiatric and physical outcomes

•        Risk of side effects from substances

•        Routine treatment less effective, unless specialised care provided

•        Poorer adherence to treatment

•        Higher risk of relapse

•        Risk of poly-substance abuse

Treatment Needs:

People struggling with dual diagnosis or co-occurring conditions have specialised treatment needs. South Pacific Private offers an “Integrated Model” of care where both disorders / conditions, are treated at the same time, at the same place and by the same clinical team, so that there is an holistic approach to supporting the person into long term and sustainable recovery from both co-occuring conditions.


Dual Diagnosis Realities

Recovery from a dual diagnosis co-existing mental illness & addiction issues is likely to be more successful when underlying causes and environmental factors are addressed at the same time as the presenting symptoms and problems are treated.

Managing both mental illness and substance use disorders can be challenging, exhausting and risky when attempting it alone. For this reason professional support and treatment is strongly recommended.

Dual Diagnosis is most effectively treated by health professionals, (Psychiatrists, Psychologists, therapists and nurses), who specialize in treating coexisting mental illness and substance use disorders at the same time, by the same group of clinicians, within the same treatment program.

If you would like to speak to someone who understands the challenges of living with dual diagnosis, and who can discuss the your particular situation and treatment needs, we suggest that you call our assessment team who will offer a free and confidential preliminary chat, or full assessment if that is your preference.

Take the first step into treatment for dual diagnosis today by phoning or emailing our assessment team. Call us on 1800 063 332.


Do you need support right now?

People suffering with dual diagnosis often have difficulty recognizing that they need help, or reaching out for the help they need.

If you are feeling hopeless, despairing or having thoughts of suicide, and need immediate help, we recommend you contact your doctor, local hospital, local mental health service, mental health professionals or Lifeline.

Lifeline 131114