Mood Disorder and Substance Abuse Treatment in San Diego

Dual Diagnoses: Treating Substance Abuse and Other Disorders

Quite often, substance abuse problems and psychological disorders are intertwined. The “official” term for this is dual diagnosis. There are many substances to which people are addicted. There are numerous psychological or emotional disorders. Each may play a large part in a dual diagnosis of an addiction and another disorder. Often, the substance abuse problems and psychological illness are inseparable. At Casa Palmera’s treatment facility in San Diego, we provide effective dual diagnosis treatment for substance abuse and mood disorders such as anxiety.

It takes an experienced team to properly treat someone with a dual diagnosis. Finding the right treatment plan can be daunting. As a result, many facilities look for one “primary disorder” to treat, ignoring other concomitant illnesses. At Casa Palmera, we understand that a dual diagnosis requires treatment of all issues to achieve complete healing. Untreated emotional problems make relapse more likely, and untreated substance abuse problems often exacerbate or mask emotional problems. Treating both issues together results in a better recovery outcome.

Self-Medication and Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Three psychological/emotional illnesses often appear in people with substance abuse issues. All may make it impossible to function normally, affecting everything from relationships to work performance.

1. Mood Disorders

People with depression or bipolar disorder often turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, sometimes resulting in addiction.

2. Anxiety Disorders

Many live their lives in a state of constant worry. They are restless, and often experience nightmares. On top of that, they are prone to headaches and upset stomachs. Common anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder, marked by constant worrying and an overriding fear that comes to dominate life.
  • Panic Disorders, which often include a sudden feeling of complete terror when there is no real threat. Sometimes the feelings are so strong, sufferers feel as if they could die, and many report chest tightness, dizziness, and a very fast heart rate.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) causes an obsession with troubling or disturbing thoughts, which people try to gain control of by doing certain things, or “rituals”. For instance, if someone is germ phobic and has OCD, they may need to wash their hands constantly throughout the day.
  • Phobias affect one in ten people, and are unreasonable fears of certain things, which, if seen or experienced, cause intense anxiety. Even just the thought of the feared thing can caused extreme anxiety.


Damaging life events can lead to substance abuse issues and psychological problems. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often the result of a traumatic event and commonly robs the sufferer of the capacity to deal with “normal” situations.

Substance Abuse Complicates Underlying Issues

Living with a mood disorder makes people feel isolated and helpless. Many turn to alcohol and drugs as a way to feel better. Self-medication is never a good solution, and without treatment of the emotional issues, no amount of drugs or alcohol will fix the pain they feel.

At Casa Palmera treatment center in San Diego, we understand that both psychological disorders and substance abuse negatively affect the health of a person mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. Treating mood disorders and substance abuse simultaneously requires treating the mind and spirit. Circumstances and characteristics may vary among people, but there is one constant; substance abuse and mental health disorder play off each other in the worst way, no matter which one is primary. Casa Palmera guides people to recovery from painful and exhausting conditions. We believe all parts of a dual diagnosis must be treated at the same time in order to foster the best recovery outcome.

Beyond medical treatments and therapy sessions, we encourage our clients to take part in expressive therapies and develop positive goals. We also offer holistic therapies, such as reiki, and yoga to ease our clients’ transition to healing. By learning more about themselves and their illness, they can learn how to calm their anxieties and minimize their despair. Casa Palmera has the knowledge of dual diagnosis and the treatment programs necessary to help people overcome their past and develop inner strength.