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What Is the Most Common Dual Diagnosis in Teens?

a teen receives co occurring disorder treatment for her dual diagnosis

A dual diagnosis is an assessment given to patients with co-occurring disorders. The reason psychiatrists draw specific attention to a pair of disorders appearing in tandem is that the presence of one can affect the condition of the other. The importance of a dual diagnosis is that with many co-occurring disorders, treating one without addressing the other often leads to treatment falling completely short.

Among teenagers, a dual diagnosis typically identifies a combination of mental health and substance abuse disorders. There are a number of factors contributing to why this happens as often as it does, but the prevailing reason is that substance abuse and mental health have a cyclical relationship. For example, a common dual diagnosis in teens is a combination of AUD (alcohol use disorder) and MDD (major depressive disorder). Individuals with depression may turn to alcohol to mitigate, numb, or forget about their symptoms. Prolonged alcohol use would, in turn, result in worsened depression, and so on. At Imagine Spokane, co-occurring disorder treatment is one of the many services included in our partial hospitalization/intensive outpatient programs for teens. Reach us online, or call us at 509.870.3810 to learn more about what a dual diagnosis means for your teen.

Most Common Co-Occurring Disorders for Adolescents

Situations similar to the mental health/substance abuse cycle are among the most common dual diagnosis in teens. Beyond the interaction between these two types of disorders, it’s possible that their initial causes may be interlinked as well. Significantly easier access to drugs and alcohol is one driving cause behind why teenagers find substance abuse to be such an easy outlet for symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.

Mental health also takes a relatively sharp decline among the 13-18 age group. Mounting social pressure, academics, and the responsibility that comes with adulthood can be the catalyst for, or a means to reveal, psychological instabilities within an adolescent. In terms of specific mental health disorders, the most commonly identified within a co-occurring disorder are:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Oppositional defiant disorder

Dual diagnosis treatment can provide effective help and support for teen co-occurring disorders, such as mental health conditions and substance use disorders.

The Value of a Dual Diagnosis

Each of the most common dual diagnoses in teens can be treated in roughly the same manner. Dual diagnosis treatment combines the mainstay therapeutic approaches to both components of a co-occurring disorder into a single program. Simply treating substance abuse without addressing the depression involved ultimately results in a surface-level fix. However, when each element of a co-occurring disorder is addressed and given attention by the therapist, the path forward can be made much clearer. When patients participate in a partial hospitalization program at Imagine Spokane, every therapy style accommodates dual diagnosis treatment.

Whether your teen participates in group, individual, or family therapy, there’s a way to tackle both sides of their particular issue. At every step along the way, we’ve designed a series of life skills and coping mechanisms to break the cycle of substance abuse as a cure for mental unwellness. Even after the PHP ends, your teen will be prepared for life with trauma-informed care and a plan for medication at home.

Treatment for Teen Co-Occurring Disorders at Imagine Spokane

Our focus is on providing a complete evaluation of your teen’s needs and addressing them in a professional manner. At Imagine Spokane, the co-occurring disorder treatment program is geared to help teens identify the way their struggles are entangled and support them in working through to a better life. We’re committed to more than just helping teenagers recover—we want to instill lessons and skills that can help in areas far beyond their current struggles.

There’s no treating co-occurring disorders without a shared understanding and trust between therapist and patient. Reach out online now, or contact us directly at 509.870.3810 today to learn more about what a dual diagnosis can do for your teen and your family.