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Co-Occurring and Dual Diagnosis Services in Illinois

Co-Occurring and Dual Diagnosis Services in Illinois

Substance use disorder can change a person’s mind and body. Physical health impacts allow other conditions to develop, including mental health disorders. It’s common for individuals who struggle with substance use disorder to have a mental health diagnosis and vice versa. When individuals are battling more than a singular disorder, we call this a “dual diagnosis.”

Finding adequate treatment programs that target both disorders is a crucial part of reaching sobriety. It can help individuals dig deeper into the root of their substance use disorder and find the most effective methods for dealing with situations. Gateway Foundation can help you learn about co-occurring disorders and co-occurring disorder treatments in Chicago, Illinois.

What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

A co-occurring diagnosis describes an individual dealing with a substance use disorder and a mental health condition. The two may have developed at the same time, or one could have influenced the other. 

Individuals who have a mental illness are more likely to develop a substance use disorder than those without a diagnosis. Around 9.2 million adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, making dual diagnosis treatment a necessity for many individuals.

Co-occurring disorders can heighten the intensity of both conditions and make the treatment process more complex. There are numerous reasons why co-occurring disorders are so common, including:

  • Coinciding risk factors: Substance use disorders and mental health conditions have similar risk factors, including one’s environment, social status, stress level, history of trauma, genetics and psychological factors. 
  • Brain changes: Substance use can have numerous effects on a person’s brain. Drugs and alcohol can alter brain function and potentially lead to a mental health disorder. Some areas of the brain that substance use impacts are those associated with mood, anxiety, impulse control and schizophrenia.
  • Self-medicating: People with mental health conditions may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and lessen the symptoms of their disorders, but these substances intensify symptoms of mental health conditions. Self-medicating may lead to co-occurring disorders. A person may also decide to self-medicate with substances to lessen the effects of — or replace — their prescribed medication.

There are numerous reasons why co-occurring disorders are so common

Studies show that some of the most common mental health conditions and substance use disorders include anxiety and mental illness. Anxiety disorders cover panic disorder, general anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental disorders cover depression, borderline personality disorder (BPD), bipolar disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

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Signs and Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorder and Addiction

Spotting mental illness in a person struggling with substance use disorder can be challenging with overlapping symptoms. Both conditions impact an individual’s mind and show through similar behavioral and social patterns.

Medical and mental health professionals can work with patients to diagnose co-occurring disorders and determine the root of the symptoms. It’s more effective for a mental health professional to diagnose mental health conditions when a person is off the substance to connect symptoms solely with the mental illness. Some symptoms include: 

  • Showing changes in daily habits: Individuals with mental health conditions may have significant changes in their daily functions, like having trouble sleeping or experiencing changes in their appetite. They may also have difficulty carrying out everyday tasks that they once could accomplish, like making meals for themselves, cleaning their house or getting ready for work or school. These changes in their habits or routine may stem from anxiousness, stress, lack of motivation or other factors due to mental illness.
  • Having no self-awareness: A person struggling with a mental health condition may exhibit concerning behaviors that they are unaware of, but others on the outside notice. They may show severe aggression towards others or high levels of irritability. Losing self-awareness can also mean struggling to remember who they are and their role in life. They won’t notice the struggles in their relationship with a partner, family member or friend. 
  • Feeling intense emotional highs and lows: Mood swings are a common symptom of various mental health conditions and can occur within short time frames. A person may notice how difficult it is to get out of the bad mood they have for seemingly no reason, feel like they’re in a fog, be unable to concentrate, feel irritable or be afraid without a conscious reason. The intense emotional highs and lows are common symptoms that show in many mental health conditions.
  • Distancing from loved ones: Individuals struggling with a co-occurring disorder may begin to distance themselves from friends and family members. This can happen for various reasons, including loved ones mentioning changes in their behavior or physical appearance, sneaking away to use substances or feeling emotionally drained or lonely. Isolating from loved ones can be a dangerous symptom of mental illness if not treated.

Distancing from loved ones

  • Feeling physical changes: A person dealing with a co-occurring disorder may experience physical changes in their body or health. Some symptoms that they can have include headaches, muscle tension, restlessness, unexplained pain or insomnia. Individuals may also notice a decrease or increase in their libido. Other physical changes may be due to inadequate personal hygiene or grooming because of their mental health condition. 
  • Showing behavioral changes: Co-occurring conditions may cause individuals to have significant behavioral changes. These behaviors can start with their typical daily behaviors to those that impact their health and well-being. If a person experiences a mental condition first, they may begin using substances to help ease the symptoms. Other behavioral changes associated with mental illness include delusions, paranoia or considering suicide. 
  • Exhibiting a lack of interest: People may start to distance themselves or show little interest in their previously enjoyed hobbies or activities. They may be uninterested in spending time with loved ones, eating their favorite food, celebrating the holidays or shopping at their favorite store. 

Some signs and symptoms that can help uncover addiction include:

  • Lacking control over the substance: Individuals struggling with substance use disorder can lack all control over their use of a substance. They can start using the substance daily without acknowledging the negative consequences toward their health or their life. It is challenging to quit independently, as it leads to frequent cravings.
  • Participating in dangerous behavior: Participating in risky behaviors is a common sign of substance use disorder. Substances can alter a person’s judgment and other cognitive abilities that impair decision-making skills. Some of the risky behaviors that a person may participate in include sharing needles with others, engaging in unsafe sexual activity, using substances while driving or other dangerous activities. 
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms: A person struggling with substance use disorder will notice severe symptoms when they stop using the substance. Withdrawal can include muscle aches, vomiting, sweating, headache, tremors and high heart rate. 
  • Having a higher tolerance to a substance: Regularly using a substance can cause a person to develop a high tolerance. They’ll increase their intake or dosage to feel the effects again. This high tolerance can increase the time a person spends using or obtaining the substance. 
  • Having trouble functioning in the real world: A person with substance use disorder may find it difficult to handle life or interact with others without the substance they’re using.
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What Causes Co-Occurring Disorders and Addiction?

A person can travel down numerous pathways that lead them to develop co-occurring disorders. While there isn’t one decided cause for substance use disorder or mental illness, many factors in a person’s life can influence their risk level for having both conditions. 


The risk of developing substance use disorder and a mental health condition can be linked to genetics. The brain reacts to substances or life situations based on genetics. They play a role in someone’s risk for co-occurring disorders and explain why some people can control their use of substances like drugs or alcohol while others can’t and why some people develop mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.


If someone’s family members struggle with mental illness or substance use, they are more likely to develop these conditions. It’s helpful for individuals who know they have a family history of substance use or mental health problems to monitor their well-being. 

Environmental Factors

The environment a person grows up in or lives in can impact their chances of substance use or mental illness. This factor is especially prominent for children and adolescents and their risk for co-occurring disorders. If a young person grows up in an area where drug or alcohol use is heavily present, or their parent’s or guardians have little involvement in their lives, their risk for developing a disorder raises significantly.

Another factor that impacts individuals is peer pressure. Peer pressure is especially a risk factor for young children and adolescents. Having easy access to substances can increase the chances of a person having substance use disorder. 


Stress is a common factor of substance use disorder and for a variety of mental health conditions. High levels of stress can impact parts of the brain that impair judgment, motivation and impulsivity. These three behaviors can be risky influencers for substance use. 

Early experiences with stress or chronic stress can impact a person’s mind and function, leading to a range of mental illnesses. Stress is common in the comorbidity of mental health conditions and substance use disorder. Experiencing high levels of stress may also impact the risk factor for relapse. 

History of Trauma

People who experience physical or emotional trauma in their life may have a higher risk of co-occurring disorders. Dealing with trauma may lead individuals to seek various coping methods for handling emotions, and turning to substance use is a path some may take. 

Trauma and abuse also have a significant impact on a person’s mental health. Without adequate treatment, a person may begin to contain their range of emotions, leading to various types of mental health conditions. Treatment for co-occurring disorders may discover that trauma or abuse is at the root of their dual diagnosis. 

History of Trauma

Levels of Treatment for Dual Diagnosis

Co-occurring disorders require various levels of treatment to combat substance use disorder and mental health conditions. The treatment programs at Gateway Foundation provide ranging levels of intensity to handle and treat co-occurring disorders and dual diagnoses effectively.

The treatment plans for individuals struggling with substance use disorder and mental health conditions look different from treatment plans for those with one of the two conditions. To reach the path to sobriety, the team of medical and mental health professionals must offer services that impact both conditions to help patients stay in recovery and live without substances and manage their mental illness.

At Gateway, we provide all levels of care for patients recovering from dual diagnoses. Our care levels range from most intensive with the highest support to low intensity and finding methods to continue living a sober life.

Detoxification and Withdrawal Management

The first part of a person’s treatment plan is coming off of the substance. This process is known as withdrawal management at Gateway Foundation or detoxification. This first level of treatment requires the highest level of care medically and mentally because of the intense withdrawal symptoms.

Detoxification and Withdrawal Management

Detox ranges based on a patient’s substance and the severity of their dependence. Some substances like cocaine or marijuana don’t require detoxification — the patient can move onto Gateway Foundation’s other forms of treatment. Other substances cause patients to form substantial physical and mental dependencies, which require more intense medical detox services. 

This type of withdrawal management service provides patients with around-the-clock staff to ensure their safety throughout the detox process. Gateway Foundation also offers a medication-assisted treatment program as another route to make the withdrawal process easier for qualifying patients. 

The thought of withdrawal is what may turn people away from seeking out treatment for their co-occurring disorders. The helpful medical staff and withdrawal management program at Gateway Foundation provides excellent care for those needing any type of detox.

Residential Inpatient Treatment

The following phase of care after withdrawal management is Gateway Foundation’s residential inpatient treatment services. Dual diagnosis residential treatment is an option for individuals wanting to recover from co-occurring disorders and need a little extra support and supervision during the process.

This level of care is more intensive than other recovery options because the patient will reside in the treatment center during the duration of their recovery process. They’ll have continual support from the staff at Gateway Foundation and be completely cut off from access to any substances.

Cravings are common during recovery, and some patients require more structured treatment and support to progress through recovery. Residential inpatient treatment at Gateway Foundation is an excellent option for those wanting 24/7 support and zero options for relapse while staying at the inpatient facility.

Residential Inpatient Treatment

Partial Hospitalization

Gateway Foundation’s partial hospitalization program service is another level of care that can be an excellent option for those with co-occurring disorders. This phase of care is a step below residential inpatient treatment because patients won’t reside in a facility.

The structure of the partial hospitalization program is similar to a person’s work or school routine. The patient will spend most of their day at treatment receiving the care they need and end their day back home. Treatment is a big part of the patient’s life, but they can spend the night at their home.

This option is helpful for individuals if they don’t need the around-the-clock care that residential treatment provides and they have a safe place to stay during treatment. Patients opting for partial hospitalization should also have a strong support system to help them go through this process and hold them accountable. 

Intensive Outpatient

Another level of care that individuals with co-occurring disorders can participate in is intensive outpatient services at Gateway Foundation. Some people can not take time off of their job or school during their treatment, and an intense dual diagnosis outpatient program can be an excellent choice.

Some patients don’t have the time or desire for a 24/7 inpatient treatment program. Intensive outpatient programs can provide these individuals with the services and therapies they need to recover from co-occurring disorders.

Patients will attend several outpatient appointments during their week for a few hours at a time to receive the care they need. These appointments fit into a person’s busy schedule and still help them succeed during the recovery process. 

Outpatient Treatment

If a person needs to continue their routine and receive care to conquer their co-occurring disorders, Gateway Foundation’s outpatient treatment services can help.

Outpatient Treatment

Gateway’s outpatient treatment services for alcohol use disorder can provide the resources and level of care an individual needs to stay sober from alcohol. The staff will provide guidance and support during recovery, and patients can continue to attend work, school and other obligations during their treatment.

We offer flexibility in our appointment scheduling, so patients can choose to participate in treatment in the morning, afternoon or evening. 

Sober Living

The final level of care that Gateway Foundation offers for patients is family support and programming or sober living services. Co-occurring disorders impact far beyond the individual — their loved ones can struggle throughout their addiction and during their recovery process. This treatment program helps strengthen a patient’s support system and develop healthy ongoing support after treatment.

Gateway Foundation will provide family therapy programs for individuals close to a patient actively involved in their recovery. This can include relatives, like their parents or siblings, or close friends. Having the people closest to the patient participate in the treatment process can provide them with helpful resources and methods for helping their loved ones cope with recovery and support them in the best way possible.

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Common Mental Health Diagnoses and Addictions

Co-occurring diseases are common at treatment facilities. Certain mental health conditions are present more often than others in co-occurring disorders. People must watch for symptoms of these mental health conditions, whether they were present before the substance use disorder or developed during substance use. Treatment plans can incorporate the right services to treat co-occurring disorders.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 

Individuals diagnosed with ADHD may be more likely to develop alcohol use or substance use disorder. Around 25% of individuals being treated for co-occurring disorders have an ADHD diagnosis. 

People with ADHD typically take stimulants to help treat their symptoms. Stimulants are often known for their habit-forming properties and can potentially lead to a substance use problem. It’s also common for individuals with ADHD to start using alcohol as adolescents. Individuals use drugs or alcohol because ADHD can impact the mind and impulsivity in individuals with the condition. 

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Around 7.8% of all adults in the United States have suffered a major depressive episode. The symptoms and effects of depression may cause individuals to self-medicate with alcohol or other substances. Self-medicating can often make the symptoms and feelings of depression worsen and lead to co-occurring disorders. Depression can also emerge because of substance or alcohol use disorder.

Substance use disorder may trigger feelings of sadness or loneliness, which may intensify depression in a person with co-occurring disorders. Substance use disorder and depression together may lead to more severe health conditions without treatment. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The most common mental health condition seen in the United States is generalized anxiety disorder. Around 6.8 million adults in the United States can experience generalized anxiety disorder during the year. This mental health condition is commonly seen in co-occurring disorders due to individuals attempting to self-medicate through alcohol and drugs. Some individuals struggling with substance use disorder develop generalized anxiety disorder because of the effects of the substance on the brain.

Individuals may have benzodiazepines prescribed to them for treating their anxiety. These prescription medications have highly-addictive properties and may lead to substance use disorders if not taken as prescribed. 

Bipolar Disorder

Many people struggling with substance use disorder also are diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health condition like bipolar disorder. Individuals with bipolar disorder experience intense mood shifts that can last for days or weeks. Bipolar disorder can also cause significant changes in a person’s energy levels or ability to concentrate.

Many factors may lead to bipolar disorder, from genetics to growing up in a traumatic environment. Individuals with bipolar disorder may use substances to reduce their symptoms and find relief from their intense emotional state, but this regular self-medication may lead to co-occurring conditions. 

Borderline Personality Disorder

Individuals with BPD experience problems with the way they feel about themselves. This may include trouble managing their emotions or behavior in various situations. BPD may also cause people to have trouble handling being alone and instability. This mental health condition works with substance use disorder because individuals may begin using alcohol or drugs to reduce their feelings or symptoms surrounding the mental illness.

The conditions have numerous overlaps in symptoms like mood fluctuations, poor respect for one’s health and impulsive habits, making it a difficult co-occurring diagnosis.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 

OCD is a condition where people have continuous unwanted ideas and thoughts described as obsessions. OCD can cause numerous compulsions that severely impact a person’s daily life, like fear of germs and the need to obsessively clean. People experience variations of this condition that can affect their well-being. This mental health condition is commonly seen with substance use disorders because individuals may use substances to help suppress their obsessive thoughts.

Individuals with OCD may also suffer from other mental health conditions like depression or anxiety, which commonly occur with substance use disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder


Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health condition that impacts less than one percent of the United States population. People may have hallucinations, delusions, trouble thinking, disorganized speech and lack of motivation. Schizophrenia can co-occur with substance use disorder because substances may heighten symptoms of the condition. Individuals already at risk for schizophrenia may not notice symptoms until they use substances like amphetamines or marijuana. Certain substances can worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Individuals with schizophrenia may also look to self-medicating with substances to relieve some of their symptoms, leading to more complications in the co-occurring disorder. 

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are described by unhealthy eating habits. They are another common condition that can co-occur with substance use disorder. A person may develop substance use disorder before, during or after they develop an eating disorder. People may begin using substances to suppress their appetite. 

Some eating disorders that may co-occur with substance use disorder are binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa. Both conditions can impact a person physically, emotionally and socially.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 

PTSD is a mental health condition that develops from a person’s experience with trauma. PTSD can last for months or years after experiencing a traumatic situation. Individuals may begin using substances to combat their feelings and other symptoms of PTSD. Individuals struggling with PTSD may also have other mental health condition diagnoses like depression or anxiety.

United States Veterans are commonly diagnosed with PTSD because of their experience in combat. Two out of 10 United States Veterans who have PTSD also suffer from substance use disorder.

How to Know When It’s Time for Treatment

Dealing with a co-occurring disorder is exhausting and detrimental to a person’s health. Accepting that the side effects are damaging to your overall health may be difficult for some people. Some may wait until their addiction is “bad enough” to seek out treatment, but any moment when a person feels like their substance use or their mental well-being is out of control, it’s time to seek treatment for co-occurring disorders.

Having a dual diagnosis of substance use and a mental health condition is not a sign of weakness. These are both diseases that require expert care and resources to overcome. Co-occurring disorders can happen to anyone regardless of financial status, gender, race, religion or occupation. Knowing when to reach out for help can transform your or a loved one’s life.

Dual diagnosis addiction treatment

Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment

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How to Know When It's Time for Treatment

Here are six ways to know you should reach out to Gateway Foundation for help with co-occurring disorders:

  1. Family troubles: Your family members will feel the effects of your substance use disorder and mental health condition and reach out to you. These conditions consume your life and can make you miss out on important life events like graduations, birthday celebrations or holiday gatherings. Your actions may completely transform in the house by becoming angry or having increased irritability.
  2. Health issues: Regularly using drugs or alcohol damages your physical and mental health, especially if you’re already struggling with a mental health condition. Substance use can cause health issues that can impact you in the short term and have permanent repercussions. Seek out treatment when you notice a decline in your physical or mental health. 
  3. Work problems: If you begin to notice a decline in your performance at work or coworkers and managers note your lack of effort, it’s likely because your time and mental energy are spent using or purchasing a substance. Reach out for treatment when you start missing deadlines or are in danger of losing your job. 
  4. Lack of control: If you cannot stop using the substance and are experiencing intense cravings, it’s time to consider treatment. Gateway Foundation’s treatment programs can help combat the need to use substances and help treat your co-occurring mental health condition. 
  5. Legal issues: Drug and alcohol misuse can get people into risky situations. You may get into legal trouble when using substances while operating a vehicle or getting aggressive. 
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Types of Treatment Available for Co-Occurring Disorders and Addictions

The dual diagnosis programs at Gateway Foundation offer patients various treatment options that will best help them down the road to recovery. The diversity of therapies and treatment options allows Gateway’s staff to tailor treatment plans to each patient and give them the best opportunity to reach sobriety.


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Treating co-occurring disorders will allow the patient to learn methods for handling their substance triggers and mental health condition. Some of the treatment options available at Gateway Foundation include:

The Process of Treating a Co-Occurring Disorder and Addiction

Gateway foundation will treat both or multiple conditions a person is struggling with throughout their treatment plan. Each step in the treatment process will get you closer to sobriety and having healthy coping methods for your mental health condition. The treatment process at Gateway Foundation includes:

  1. Contact Gateway Foundation: The first step of the process is making the initial call with Gateway Foundation and setting up your treatment plan. You’ll provide your insurance, information about your substance use, a list of your medications and any health issues Gateway Foundation should know. We’ll complete an initial assessment and determine the best type of plan for you and move forward to the next step. 
  2. Withdrawal management: If your substance use disorder requires withdrawal management and detoxification, that will be your next step in the treatment process. The medical staff at Gateway Foundation will monitor withdrawal symptoms and try to make you as comfortable as possible.
  3. Inpatient, partial hospitalization or outpatient treatment: Next, you’ll participate in either inpatient, partial hospitalization or outpatient treatment. The staff at Gateway Foundation will help determine which type of treatment will be best for your conditions and set you up with treatment options that work at both your substance use disorder and your mental illness. 
  4. Ongoing support and therapy: Gateway Foundation offers support and resources for patients after they complete their treatment. You’ll have access to support groups and other aftercare programs that can help you continue your sober lifestyle.

You'll have access to support groups and other aftercare programs that can help you continue your sober lifestyle.

The Benefits of Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Participating in treatment for dual diagnosis can help patients gain control over their lives. It’s the best option for becoming sober and prioritizing your health.

Some of the benefits of co-occurring and dual diagnosis services are:

  • Learning how to cope: Handling potential substance triggers is a coping skill you’ll learn during treatment. Staff will provide healthy methods that help you control your urges and prevent relapsing.
  • Assessing mental health: Dual diagnosis rehab facilities can help pinpoint mental health conditions that are masked by substance use disorders. This can make treatment more effective.
  • Support groups and counseling: Seeking out treatment will give you access to various types of therapy and support groups that can help you progress and help loved ones learn how they can help through your treatment.
  • Planning for the future: Thinking about your future is challenging when dealing with co-occurring disorders. Treatment programs can help planning out your next steps easier when you’re able to think clearly and take substance use out of the picture. 

Dual diagnosis rehab facilities can help pinpoint mental health conditions that are masked by substance use disorders. This can make treatment more effective.

Frequently Asked Questions About Co-Occurring Addiction Treatment

Do you have more questions about co-occurring and dual diagnoses? Check out some of the most frequently asked questions about co-occurring disorders treatment to learn more about the process at Gateway Foundation.

Are the Symptoms for All Co-Occurring Disorders the Same?

The symptoms of co-occurring disorders vary depending on the substance a person uses and their mental health condition.

Where Is Gateway Foundation Located?

You can choose one of the 16 Gateway Foundation locations in Illinois for co-occurring disorders treatment.

Contact Gateway Foundation for Dual Diagnosis Treatment Information

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Contact Gateway Foundation for Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Are you ready to start your recovery journey? Contact Gateway Foundation today to learn more about co-occurring and dual diagnosis treatment and how we can help you take control over your life again.