What is dual diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is when someone has both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, such as alcoholism or drug addiction. About 50% of people with a substance use disorder also face mental health challenges, and vice versa. When both are present, they often feed each other and worsen outcomes.

However, there is hope. I have worked with many families over the years who felt lost and afraid. We work together to understand the root of issues in play and create a plan for wellness.

Diagnosing the Problems

Diagnosing mental health problems in substance abusers is challenging. Drug abuse often mimics psychiatric symptoms, making it difficult to differentiate between substance-induced and pre-existing mental illness. A family map is a key tool in solving this challenge.

A family map includes both social history and family history. It provides insight into a family’s history of trauma, sudden death, marriage, divorce, sexually acting out, money issues, learning problems, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, andreligiosity. By gaining insight to the social and familial histories, we get a clearer picture.

What If There Are Additional Problems?

Some people experience additional problems, beyond the diagnosed mental health and substance problems. An avalanche of additional problems can exist, that I describe as the TRIPLE THREAT. The Triple Threat applies to those who suffer from a tertiary problem. Learn more about Triple Threat Diagnosis.

Treatment Options

With Dual Diagnosis clients, it is important to have a great team in place and build scaffolding for support throughout the intervention, treatment, and recovery process. Everyone must be on board with the client’s treatment path, becauseeveryone will have a role to play.

My process is simple. First, we need to talk through your specific situation because each situation is unique. Once we have established a plan together, then I activate my team and coordinate with you to have a very caring, honest conversation with your loved one. This is the invitation to change.

It is not an ambush, and it’s important that it doesn’t feel like one. We will talk about how to make sure it’s well received and thoroughly planned. I will be with you and your family every step of the way to ensure that your loved one has the best chance to live their best life.

If you’re worried about a loved one, there is no better day than today to find help. Let’s talk, and together, we’ll find a healing solution.


  • Louise Stanger Ed.D, LCSW, CDWF, CIP

    Writer, Speaker, Clinician, Interventionist

    Dr. Louise Stanger founded All About Interventions because she is passionate about helping families whose loved ones experience substance abuse, mental health, process addictions and chronic pain. She is committed to showing up for her clients and facilitating lasting change so families are free from sleepless, worrisome nights. Additionally, she speaks about these topics all around the country, trains staff at many treatment centers, and develops original family programs. In 2018, Louise became the recipient of the Peggy Albrecht Friendly House Excellence in Service Award. She most recently received the Interventionist of the Year Award from DB Resources in London and McLean Hospital - an affiliate of Harvard University, in 2019. To learn more, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDf5262P7I8 and visit her website at allaboutinterventions.com.