Co-Occurring Disorders


Northbound’s highly educated clinicians and therapists are experienced in the treatment of individuals with co-occurring disorders and provides every client with a customized treatment plan that meets his or her needs.

Though most mental illnesses do not have a cure, our clients can learn to live with their illness and find hope in our treatment. One of our alumni shared her experience with depression: “I was trying to quit drinking and I got a medical marijuana card. Pretty soon I was super paranoid and couldn’t leave the house. My brother had to go get my pot for me because he had a card too. I got so depressed that I stopped washing my hair. Toward the end I was drinking again. When I arrived at Northbound I was unable to acknowledge my depression. But pretty soon after sobering up and talking with my therapist, I began to get back in touch with reality.”

Mental illness co-occurring with substance abuse is treatable. A dual-diagnosis client is clinically appropriate for Northbound Treatment Services as long as substance abuse is the primary disorder.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

dual diagnosis treatment facilities

The term Dual Diagnosis is used as a diagnostic term to describe an individual who has both a mental health and a alcohol or drug problem. Some of the other terms used are Co-Morbid Disorders, Co-Occurring Disorders, Concurrent Disorders, or Dually Diagnosed. Over half of all people who enter drug and alcohol addiction treatment have at least one mental disorder in addition to their alcohol and/or drug addiction. People who abuse drugs have a higher chance of having a dual diagnosis disorder than alcoholics. It is thought that some drug addicts are actually self-medicating an underlying mental health disorder and that is the reason why they are drawn to a particular drug. This is commonly referred to as the Self-Medicating Hypothesis of Drug Addiction.

Dual Diagnosis – Which Came First?

It is difficult to figure out which came first, the psychiatric problem or the drug and alcohol problem. Sometimes drugs and alcohol can lead to depression, anxiety, and even psychosis. Other times people suffer from depression, anxiety, or psychosis and use drugs or alcohol to help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms from those disorders.

Unique Take on the 12-Steps

In terms of treatment, we follow a 12-step method backed up with a tremendous clinical team with decades of experience in addiction treatment. While some may be skeptical regarding the 12-step efficacy for improving mental health, we’ve found amazing success in the system of having our clients work closely with their peers who have had success in treating their own mental illness. Research backs this process, with study after study demonstrating that a support group comprised of people sharing a common experience is extremely effective in stabilizing a mental illness. Shared experiences are a huge part of the treatment program at Northbound, whether or not the client is dually diagnosed. From this shared experience stem hope and positivity, as well as great coping skills.

The Basics

When a client arrives at Northbound, they are assigned a highly experienced therapist who performs a complete initial assessment. All previous diagnoses and medications are taken into account and core treatment goals are discussed. Through psychiatric referrals, Northbound emphasizes stabilizing moods with the least medication, and through improved ability to anticipate mood problems we’ve been hugely successful in reducing, correcting the dosage of, or eliminating unnecessary medications. Likewise, improper diagnoses and stigmatizing labels are discarded at NTS. Each week the clinical team, comprised of multiple doctoral-level psychologists, meets to review each client’s progress.

Psychotherapy and Medication

Psychotherapy is the cornerstone of treatment at Northbound along with cognitive behavioral therapy, anger management, process group, sleep management, psycho-education, and neuro-feedback. Our philosophy at Northbound is to focus on holistic healing and trauma care with the minimal amount of medication necessary. If necessary, the medications for mental health are monitored at Northbound to treat mental illnesses. These include antipsychotic medications, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers.

The clinical staff works hard with psychiatrists to stay current on new medications that might benefit a particular individual. The biggest change in medication in the last ten years has been newer antipsychotics and antidepressants. Now, even better compounds are being developed that target the key neurotransmitters that are involved in certain mental disorders, as opposed to drugs that only target dopamine. The clinical staff stays up-to-date on the latest medications, keeping in mind medications are useful only if they cause more benefit than harm, and work only if clients actually take them. Moreover, research has shown that it’s not only the drug, but the dosage. Dosages for clients in all phases of treatment are closely monitored because it is vital to adjust dosage after stabilization so that clients aren’t over-medicated.

Virtually all medications have some side effects, and that’s why the comprehensive treatment available at Northbound is so crucial. The staff works with psychiatrists to monitor clients for side effects such as excessive sleepiness, and weight gain or loss. Often, clients can change from one antipsychotic to another one if they are not responding well to the first medication. The same principle applies to the use of antidepressants or mood stabilizers, which are often necessary for treatment or therapy to be effective.

Skills Training

Often times, our clients need to learn, or re-learn, social skills. This is crucial to building self-esteem and long-term sobriety. Through group therapy sessions, experiential therapies and the residential structure of our extended care program, we are able to help improve comfort with and proficiency of social skills.


Mental health and substance abuseThroughout the treatment process, from detox to the core programs and aftercare, clients participate in a variety of different types of counseling sessions. We require group and individual counseling for issues such as anger management, emotional management, relapse prevention and even spiritual recovery. Our goal is to ensure each and every individual is given the tools they need to succeed in living a healthy and sober life. Because each individual who comes to us has their own needs and issues, our clinical staff creates an individualized treatment plan for every client, varying the therapies and counseling methods used as necessary. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, Dialectical Behavioral therapy, Humanistic and Modality therapies are all included in our counseling techniques. In addition, Northbound is a big believer in experiential therapy, allowing our clients to use the beautiful Orange County environment as a catalyst for recovery. The ocean, equine therapy and art therapy are just a few of the options your loved one will have at Northbound Treatment Services.

At Northbound, we know that long-term recovery means treating more than just the addiction—it means helping the client overcome the mental illness that accompanies (or even contributed to) their substance abuse problems. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction with a co-occurring mental illness, take the step that will lead to real healing. Contact Northbound any time (24 hours a day/7 days a week) and learn more about how we can help.

Northbound Dual Diagnosis Residential Treatment Centers

Persons suffering from the twin burdens of mental illness and drug or alcohol addiction can find themselves in a vicious cycle, with each affliction continually aggravating the other. If this describes you or your loved one, you should be aware that the trained professionals at Northbound can help. Our dual diagnosis track treats both problems simultaneously. We have a 12-step program that targets the mental illnesses that so often lead to substance abuse; psychological afflictions treated by our staff include depression, borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Internet addiction, low self-esteem, and much more. Northbound treats a wide range of chemical dependency disorders related to the use of many substances, including but not limited to cocaine, alcohol, opiates, and marijuana.

Our dual diagnosis treatment facilities are located in placid Orange County, California. We offer 30-, 60-, and 90-day stays, and all treatment options are customized to the individual needs of the client. Residents are provided with a variety of amenities, such as cable TV, Internet, washing machines, and reading materials related to addiction recovery. A range of weekly activities are also made available to clients.

After graduating from our drug and alcohol treatment programs and leaving our dual diagnosis track, clients can expect to receive aid to transitioning back to day-to-day living, with the hope of guiding them to a full year of sobriety.

Daily Living

Daily living at Northbound focuses on physical, spiritual, mental and emotional well-being. All clients are required to participate in gym time and activities to maintain physical fitness, while meditation and yoga assist with relaxation. The 12 steps focus on spiritual fitness while our expert clinical staff works on the mental aspect. We really treat the whole body.

At Northbound, we understand that treatment for mental illness requires a multi-faceted approach and will take time. The important thing for mental health counseling is to undergo this process in a safe and nurturing environment with professionals and peers who understand what you are going through. This is the environment we strive to achieve on a daily basis at Northbound.

To see if Northbound is right for you or a family member, go to: Are We Right for You?

Explore Co-Occurring Disorders