Dual diagnosis

Dual diagnosis/comorbidity are the medical terms 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-occurring mental health and substance use disorders or problems.

Both terms refer to one or more diagnosed mental health problems occurring at the same time as problematic drug and alcohol use and can lead to further problems with both.


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

Often when a person is struggling with addiction issues there may be a co-occurring 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 disorder) 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-occurring problems effectively, in order to support sustainable long term recovery.

Commonly Co-Occurring Conditions:

Mental Illness Substance Abuse
Anxiety Alcohol
Depression Cannabis
Bipolar Opioids
PTSD Stimulants (cocaine/amphetamines)
Psychosis Hallucinogens
Personality disorders Benzodiazepines
Pathological gambling Inhalants/solvents
ADHD Nicotine
Chronic pain Prescription medication


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

People with dual diagnosis struggle with problems associated with both the mental illness and the substance-use disorders and in addition can struggle from other 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

Do I have a co-occurring disorder? If any of these signs resonate – you can contact South Pacific Private here on 1800 063 332 to find out more.


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 a holistic approach to supporting the person into long term and sustainable recovery from both co-occurring conditions.

Addiction and mental health concerns are cunning, baffling and overwhelming and are most effectively treated in a therapeutic environment supported by addiction professionals who have experience treating comorbid conditions.

If you would like to speak to someone who understands the problems you might be facing, and who can discuss your particular situation and treatment needs, we suggest that you call the Client Care Team who will offer a free and confidential preliminary chat, or full assessment if that is your preference.

Contact the Client Care Team on 1800 063 332. You can also email the team on info@southpacificprivate.com.au

South Pacific Private is here to help when you or someone you love experiences difficulties with addictions, trauma or with mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety.

JOHN: I thought that I drank so much because I had all these problems. I didn’t realise that all my problems were directly related to how much I drank. From what my life was then, to how it is now, is so extraordinarily different.


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The goal of our self-tests is not to provide you with a diagnosis for yourself or for someone you care about. Instead, they are an opportunity for you to better understand how a behaviour might be impacting upon your life or the life of your family. Use these tests to enhance your awareness of what the problem might be. These tests should be answered honestly in order to provide accurate insight and are a chance for you to reflect upon the current situation.


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