Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment in New Hampshire

Are you or a loved one battling with mental health and substance use issues in New Hampshire?

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Are you or a loved one battling with mental health and substance use issues in New Hampshire? If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, many individuals struggle with mental health issues along with a substance use disorder, known as co-occurring disorders. Fortunately, there is help for those suffering from this serious condition.

Live Free Recovery is a nationally-recognized treatment facility located in Keene, New Hampshire that offers a comprehensive dual-diagnosis treatment program that provides personalized and evidence-based care for those suffering from co-occurring disorders. Our experienced team of addiction and mental health professionals offers individualized support to help individuals with both conditions achieve lasting recovery.

What is a Dual Diagnosis?

Have you ever heard of a Dual Diagnosis? This refers to the diagnosis of both a substance use disorder and another mental health issue occurring concurrently. In other words, this is when individual experiences two distinct conditions at the same time. It emphasizes the importance of seeking immediate help for those who are struggling in such circumstances.

Treating co-occurring disorders is a complicated process, raising the likelihood of unfavorable consequences. Fortunately, modern addiction recovery centers are equipped to address both substance abuse and mental health issues simultaneously.

Experienced psychotherapist explaining the healing process for co-occurring disorders

Historically, individuals diagnosed with both mental health issues and substance abuse disorders were treated separately. That approach was the norm until the 1990s when research proved that dual-diagnosed patients required simultaneous treatment of their two conditions to receive successful recovery outcomes. As such, it is now accepted that treating psychological illness in conjunction with substance use disorder offers greater improvement in overall well-being than single treatments alone.

Unfortunately, individuals who have a dual diagnosis often found themselves unable to obtain the mental health treatment they needed until sobriety was achieved. This dilemma arose because, at that time, there were very few resources available for them to address both of their illnesses simultaneously. Fortunately, nowadays we are aware of the difficulties these people battle and are making strides in providing better care options so they can live happier healthier lives.

What Should Be Included in Dual Diagnosis Care?

For the best chance of a full recovery, dual diagnosis treatment should include:

  • Specialists in substance abuse and mental health treatment work as a team to make sure the needs of both conditions are met.
  • Psychotherapy has a key role in treating co-occurring disorders. Prescription medication may also be necessary.
  • Therapy that allows the individual to make his or her own choices is the most reliable and commonly used approach.
  • In family therapy, it is important for spouses, partners, children, and other close relatives to partake in the treatment process. Whether they are attending individual meetings or joining in on family meetings – their involvement can be invaluable to ensure successful outcomes.

Spotting Possible Dual Diagnosis: What to Look Out For

Are you aware of the Warning Signs of a Dual Diagnosis? Mental health complications are often difficult to diagnose and can be complex when coupled with substance abuse disorders. Ignoring potential warning signs may lead to long-term consequences for both patient and family members alike.

To ensure that we can take action at the earliest opportunity, it is critical to be mindful of the warning signs.

Symptoms of SUD

  • Has difficulty maintaining good grades or good performance at work or school
  • Taking part in behaviors that are harmful to themselves or others
  • Solving problems by stealing or lying
  • Staying up late and sleeping during the day
  • Abstaining from alcohol, drugs, or gambling yet struggling with persistent relapses
  • Searching for a more intense euphoria by taking increased amounts of drugs, stronger alcoholic beverages, or riskier activities.

Symptoms of a Psychological Disturbance

  • Sudden or drastic changes in mood
  • Increased irritability, agitation, or restlessness
  • Lack of interest in engaging in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Excessive feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Extreme sadness or feelings of hopelessness
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering details
  • Difficulty in performing everyday tasks
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Inability to control impulses
  • Hallucinations
  • Social withdrawal and isolation from family and friends
  • Increased dependency on alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other compulsive behaviors.

When all these signs come together, it can indicate co-occurring disorders. For such a diagnosis, it is best advised that you consult with an addiction treatment specialist who has experience in psychology. In rehab centers with integrated dual-diagnostic programs, trained counselors and specialists will assess the patient’s SUD and mental health history before creating a personalized treatment plan tailored to their needs.

What is the Connection Between Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders?

Substance use and mental health disorders often happen together. This is known as a co-occurring disorder. People with mental health problems may abuse alcohol in an attempt to reduce feelings of distress or to cope with the symptoms of their illness. Similarly, alcohol abuse can exacerbate underlying mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Causes of Addiction

While alcohol and drug addiction can act as self-medication for symptoms of mental health issues, their use can also make the underlying disorder worse because substance abuse interferes with the brain’s natural chemistry, impacting a person’s behavior, moods, and thoughts.

Researchers have proposed possibilities for why the two often occur simultaneously:

  • Genetics – Addiction to alcohol and drugs can be passed through generations, as research suggests that certain genetic mutations can increase an individual’s risk of alcohol or drug addiction.
  • Environment – Stressful or traumatic environments can cause a person to turn to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to self-medicate their mental health issues.
  • How someone has been treated- All people have a fundamental need to feel accepted and loved. If someone has been treated poorly or not shown much love, they might turn to alcohol or drugs as a way of coping with their feelings.
  • Mental health – Mental health disorders are often linked to substance abuse, particularly in cases where the individual is trying to cope with extreme mood swings, anxiety, or depression.
  • Accessibility – The easier it is for an individual to access drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to become addicted. If drugs or alcohol are readily available in the home, at parties, or even on the street, it may be easier for an individual to develop a dependence on them.

Regardless of the reason alcohol and drug addiction often occur together, research indicates that while recovery from alcohol or drug addiction is possible, addressing both disorders simultaneously is key in achieving long-term sobriety.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

It is estimated that about 50% of those with a mental health disorder will also have a substance use problem at some point in their life. People may turn to drugs or alcohol as an escape from the feelings they experience due to their mental illness, leading to a dual diagnosis.

Addiction can often be accompanied by, or even stem from the presence of various mental health conditions. Here are some examples:

Eating Disorders – Eating disorders are psychological illnesses that involve eating habits and body image distortions. People with eating disorders often suffer from depression, low self-esteem, and feelings of guilt and shame. They may also display symptoms of substance abuse in an attempt to deal with their emotions.

Borderline Personality Disorder – Borderline personality disorder is characterized by impulsivity, unstable moods, interpersonal relationships, fear of abandonment, and difficulty regulating emotion which can lead to addiction. Those who suffer from this disorder are often driven by their intense and unpredictable emotional states to seek out substances for relief or distraction.

Anxiety Disorders – Anxiety disorders involve persistent fear and worry that interfere with daily life. People with anxiety may turn to substances as a way to cope with their anxiety.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. People with PTSD may experience flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts related to the event. People with PTSD may misuse substances in an attempt to cope with the intense feelings of fear, anxiety, and depression they experience as a result of their disorder.

ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a mental health disorder that can lead to difficulty with focus, motivation, and impulsivity. People with ADHD may misuse substances to help them concentrate or as an attempt to improve moods.

Depression – Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent sadness, lack of energy, and loss of interest in activities. People with depression may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of self-medicating in an attempt to reduce their symptoms of sadness and fatigue.

Anxiety – Anxiety is a mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, fear, restlessness, or dread. People with anxiety may use substances such as drugs or alcohol to calm themselves down and feel more relaxed.

Studies found that people with mental health and substance use disorders are more likely to misuse prescription opioids. Another study even revealed that 43% of those in Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment for misusing painkillers has either been diagnosed or displayed symptoms of depression or anxiety. Additionally, individuals who have schizophrenia tend to have higher rates of alcohol consumption, tobacco usage, and drug abuse compared to the general population.

Does Substance Use Disorder Contribute to the Development of Symptoms Associated with Mental Disorders?

The answer is yes. Substance use disorder can potentially contribute to, or actively aggravate, symptoms of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. When drugs or alcohol are used to cope with difficult emotions it can become a form of self-medication that may temporarily reduce feelings of distress but ultimately worsens mental health in the long run.

Drug addiction can have devastating consequences, including but not limited to the following:

  • Methamphetamine abuse has been linked to psychosis, mania, and Parkinson’s disease 
  • Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms may include extreme anxiety 
  • Sudden cessation of stimulants brings about depression, while  
  • Korsakoff’s syndrome is a common consequence of chronic alcoholism.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Dual Diagnosis


When seeking relief from a substance use disorder (SUD) or mental health issue, the precise level of care you need varies depending on the seriousness of your situation. An accurate dual diagnosis is paramount to ensure proper treatment and minimize any potential misdiagnosis; thus, individuals should seek evaluation by healthcare professionals who are experienced in administering comprehensive tests for both SUDs and mental disorders.

Treatment Options for Dual Diagnosis

Treatment for co-occurring disorders will not succeed unless it specifically targets both conditions and corresponding symptoms. A personalized approach that takes into account the individual’s age, substance misuse habits, and mental illness are critical to see successful outcomes from treatment plans — which can include behavioral therapies and medications as necessary. Only by addressing all these factors holistically can we achieve a comprehensive healing solution.

Treatment for SUDs

Treatment for substance abuse might include:


Detoxification is the process of purifying the body from drugs or alcohol. This can be done by gradually reducing the number of drugs or alcohol taken. This treatment may be necessary for individuals with a severe dependency on a substance, and should only be done under the care of a treatment provider in a residential treatment setting.

Withdrawal Management

Substance withdrawal management helps individuals cope with the uncomfortable physical and psychological changes that occur after substance use stops. It is an important step in the recovery process, as it can help reduce cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal management typically includes medications to ease discomfort, counseling to address underlying issues and support groups for encouragement.

Behavioral Health Therapy

Behavioral therapy is an effective form of addiction treatment that helps individuals identify and address the underlying causes of their alcohol or substance use. It is also used to modify behavior and help individuals develop coping skills for dealing with stressful situations without turning to alcohol or drugs.

Several helpful behavioral therapies for adults living with SUDS (Substance Use Disorders) and co-occurring mental health issues include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors in order to improve mental health. CBT focuses on identifying the triggers for alcohol or substance misuse, developing healthier coping skills, and examining how alcohol or drug use affects other areas of life.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy that was developed to help individuals who experience high levels of emotional distress or difficulty managing emotions and behaviors. DBT teaches skills such as distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, self-awareness, and mindfulness to help individuals manage their alcohol or substance use and develop healthier ways of coping with stress and emotions.

Integrated Treatment Approaches

Integrated treatment approaches combine evidence-based therapies from both the

This type of therapy uses concepts of mindfulness and acceptance, as people are aware of and tuned in to their current situations and emotions. It teaches people to control intense emotions, reduce self-destructive behaviors (drug use, suicidal thoughts, and attempts; self-harm), and improve relationships.

Contingency Management (CM)

Contingency management (CM) is a type of treatment that uses rewards to reinforce positive behaviors. CM strategies are often used to help individuals motivate themselves to engage in alcohol or substance abuse treatment, increase adherence to recommended medications and/or alcohol consumption plans, reduce alcohol or substance use, and increase engagement with drug treatment services. This approach helps individuals increase their self-esteem, learn to manage stress more effectively, and develop healthier coping strategies.


Medications prove to be an effective treatment for alcohol addiction and substance abuse disorders. Medication can be a powerful tool in treating the symptoms of opioid, alcohol, and nicotine addiction as well as mental health disorders. These medications work by blocking the effects of alcohol or reducing cravings for alcohol or drugs. Medication therapy is often used in combination with psychotherapy, counseling, and other treatment approaches to ensure the most effective treatment plan.

Therapy for Mental Health Problems

Individual Therapy

This individualized treatment helps individuals identify their individual triggers, thought patterns, and unhealthy behaviors associated with their mental illness or substance abuse disorder.

Group Therapy

This involves the participation of several people with similar mental health problems in a therapeutic setting. Group therapy helps individuals to build relationships and gain insight into their own behaviors while learning from others’ experiences. This type of therapy is effective in reducing negative symptoms like loneliness, isolation, and low self-esteem by providing an opportunity to practice new coping skills in the presence of supportive peers.

Family Therapy

It involves family members, clinicians, and/or aftercare professionals who work together to identify and address underlying issues that may be contributing to mental illness or addiction. Family therapy also teaches families healthy communication techniques which can help them navigate difficult conversations with less tension and more compassion.


Many medications can be used to manage certain conditions that commonly co-exist with mental illnesses and addiction. For example, antidepressant medications can treat depression and mood disorders, while antipsychotics are commonly used to help manage symptoms of psychosis. It is important to remember, however, that medications do not cure the underlying issues in conjunction with other interventions such as therapy and support groups. When taking medication, it is essential to abstain from combining any type of drug or alcohol with the treatment. Doing so could potentially be dangerous, and should therefore be avoided.

Denial and Dual Diagnosis

Denial is unfortunately prevalent when it comes to substance use disorder and mental health issues. Admitting dependency on drugs or alcohol, as well as the effect they have had on your life can be daunting, making you want to ignore professional advice despite how serious these conditions are. Mental disorders may further impact one’s perception, often leading one astray from seeking medical help in spite of its necessity.

Not only can an individual’s mental state cause immense distress, but also the only way to alleviate it is through substance abuse. This creates a continuous cycle of addiction and psychological issues that many individuals struggle with on a daily basis.

It can be scary to feel the symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or PTSD. Some people try to ignore them and hope they will go away. They might also be embarrassed or scared to tell someone that they have a problem with using substances or mental illness. However, mental health problems and substance abuse can happen to anyone. Admitting that you have a problem and that you need help is the first step toward recovery.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment in New Hampshire

If you are struggling with a dual-diagnosis disorder, intensive residential or inpatient treatment programs may be of great help. At Live Free Recovery Services located here in New Hampshire, we provide effective and comprehensive care that can assist individuals on the path to recovery.

Live Free Recovery offers intensive outpatient programs that address comorbidity, or the presence of two diagnosable illnesses at the same time. The program is designed to provide a comprehensive approach to treatment by addressing both the psychological and physical aspects of addiction recovery. We also provide outpatient rehabilitation programs that enable our patients with mental and substance use impairments to address their issues while still managing other important aspects of life. Our services allow them to remain employed, attend school, or take care of family members during treatment and therapy for both mental health concerns and substance abuse problems.

Don’t hesitate to take the first step toward recovery. At Live Free Recovery, you can find everything from medically supervised detox to sober living that will help you achieve sobriety and improved mental health in no time! There’s an answer out there for your substance use issues; don’t wait any longer – contact us now and start on your journey today.

Published on: 2021-12-27
Updated on: 2024-05-15