Expert Tips for a Healthier Relationship


5 Signs of Couples Facing Dual Diagnosis: Impacts & Treatments

Did you know that a startling 50% of people with mental illnesses also battle with substance usage, according to a study? The problem gets much more complicated when it comes to couples.

A person with a dual diagnosis, also referred to as co-occurring disorders, has both a mental health condition and a substance misuse problem. This phenomena has an impact on both partners in a relationship, which can cause a variety of difficulties that can test even the strongest ties.

Although it is a topic that is frequently disregarded, dual diagnosis in couples has a significant influence.

In relationships, the challenge of addressing mental health and substance abuse difficulties can set off a chain reaction that results in arguments, a breakdown in communication, and an overall deterioration in both parties’ quality of life.

Investigating the complexities of dual diagnosis in couples is crucial to comprehending the special difficulties they encounter and identifying practical solutions for care and support.

In order to assist couples in navigating this difficult terrain, we go deeper into this frequently overlooked topic in this article. We do this by highlighting the intricacies, potential solutions, and outcomes.

What is dual diagnosis in couples?

It describes when two people in a relationship have a mental health illness and a substance addiction problem together.

The term of dual diagnosis emphasises the coexistence of these two difficulties, making it difficult for couples to manage their circumstances. This indicates that both people are grappling with the challenges of emotional regulation and addiction treatment.

Recognising the particular difficulties couples encounter in attempting to manage their mental health and drug abuse concerns together requires an understanding of what dual diagnosis means.

5 signs to recognize dual diagnosis in your marriage

Acknowledging dual diagnosis in your marriage is essential to comprehending and resolving the intricate issues you and your spouse might be dealing with. How does having two diagnoses affect your relationship, though?

In short, dual diagnosis is the co-occurrence in both partners with a mental health illness and a substance misuse problem. It indicates that both of them are juggling not one, but two battles at once.

The following five indicators can assist you in identifying dual diagnoses in your marriage:

1. Changing emotions

Mood fluctuations are a major sign of dual diagnosis. Extreme emotional highs and lows may occur in your partner, frequently with no clear cause.

This instability may be the result of a mental illness that is made worse by substance addiction, such as depression or bipolar disorder. It is imperative that you get professional assistance since these mood swings can cause disruptions to daily life and strain relationships.

2. Changes in behavior

With dual diagnosis, abrupt and significant behavioural changes are typical. Feelings of anger, hostility, or a propensity to retreat from social situations could indicate that your significant other is co-occurring mental health problems with drug addiction.

For both spouses, these behaviours can be upsetting and puzzling. They frequently suggest that the person is abusing drugs as a coping mechanism for unexplained or untreated mental health issues.

3. Problems in relationships

Relationship dynamics can be significantly impacted by dual diagnosis. Problems including inadequate communication, eroded trust, and insufficient closeness frequently occur. The intricate interactions between substance addiction and mental health illnesses often lead to these issues.

Each condition can worsen the others, starting a vicious cycle that undermines the foundation of the relationship and makes it difficult for both parties to comprehend and support one another.

4. Neglected responsibilities

Individuals who experience difficulties with dual illness frequently begin to disregard their obligations. Their family responsibilities, career, or personal lives may all be neglected as a result of this.

It’s an indication that their struggles with mental health and substance misuse are getting worse, making it harder for them to handle responsibilities and everyday duties. This carelessness is a sign of more serious underlying problems rather than just a case of indifference or laziness.

5. Escalating substance use

A major red flag of dual diagnosis and ongoing neglect is an increased reliance on drugs or alcohol. When people turn to substances as a coping mechanism for mental health problems, it frequently creates a vicious cycle in which substance misuse exacerbates the mental health condition, which then fuels additional substance use.

This pattern of increasing severity is a serious warning sign that calls for concurrent treatment of the two problems.

Relationship impact of dual diagnosis in five key areas

The dynamics and general well-being of couples can be greatly impacted by dual diagnosis, which can have a substantial effect on relationships. Let’s examine the top five ways that having two diagnoses might harm your relationship:

1. Communication breakdown

Having two diagnoses frequently makes communication difficult. It can be difficult to communicate feelings and needs in a clear and concise way when mental health conditions and drug misuse are present.

2. Problems with trust

Relationship trust can be damaged by substance misuse and mental health issues. Couples’ confidence may be strained by dual diagnosis-related behaviours like lying, secrecy, and broken promises.

3. Stress on the emotions

Both partners in a relationship may experience emotional upheaval as a result of having multiple diagnoses. Anger, sadness, and mood fluctuations can cause emotional distance between spouses.

4. Codependency

Codependent behaviours, in which one spouse supports the other’s addictive or self-destructive tendencies, can result from dual diagnoses. The difficulties of having two diagnoses may be made worse by this unhealthful dynamic.

5. Disconnect in relationships

As a result of the effects of dual diagnosis, spouses may eventually become disengaged from one another and choose their personal issues above their partnership. Feelings of isolation and loneliness may result from this.

Couples overcoming these obstacles can greatly benefit from dual diagnosis therapy. It offers guidance, instruction, and assistance in navigating the effects of dual diagnosis on the partnership.

Why would a married couple seek therapy for two disorders?

For couples struggling with dual diagnosis in their marriage, dual diagnosis treatment is essential. However, what precisely is dual diagnosis treatment, what does it involve, and why is it significant?

Dual diagnosis treatment is an all-encompassing strategy that addresses the substance misuse problem and mental health illness at the same time.

It acknowledges that treating one without the other may result in a partial healing. Dual diagnosis treatment offers the tools and tactics required to handle both components successfully by combining therapy, medication (if necessary), and support.

Why then should you and your spouse seek treatment for a dual diagnosis?

First off, there is a better probability of a full recovery when dual diagnosis is treated. In order to improve the chances of both spouses’ long-term stability and well-being, it focuses on treating the underlying causes and triggers of both disorders.

Second, dual diagnosis care encourages more positive interpersonal dynamics and communication. Couples can strengthen and fortify their relationship by learning efficient communication skills, reestablishing trust, and creating coping mechanisms through therapy.

Finally, getting therapy for a dual condition in your marriage gives you access to a support system of peers and professionals who are aware of your challenges. This network of support can lessen feelings of loneliness and boost resilience by offering direction, inspiration, and a sense of belonging.

You are making an investment in the future well-being of your marriage by giving dual diagnosis treatment top priority. Recall that getting professional assistance is not a sign of weakness; it can help you and your spouse travel the path to a happier, healthier life together.

Options for treating couples who have two diagnoses

There are several ways for treating dual diagnosis in couples that can support both partners during their healing process. Let’s investigate a few of these therapeutic choices:

Treatment that is integrated

Therapy for both substance misuse and mental health concerns is included in integrated treatment. This method offers a thorough treatment strategy to address both diseases while acknowledging their interconnectedness.


Medication may occasionally be recommended to treat mental health condition symptoms. It can enhance general wellbeing, lessen cravings, and stabilise mood.

private treatment

Each partner is able to concentrate on their unique wants and difficulties in individual therapy. It offers a secure setting for working on personal development, learning coping mechanisms, and exploring underlying concerns.

therapy for couples

Couples with dual diagnoses are the target audience for couples therapy. It facilitates better communication, trust-building, and the joint development of healthy coping mechanisms. Couples counselling can improve a relationship by addressing each partner’s own issues.

groups of assistance

Joining support groups can offer a feeling of connection, understanding, and encouragement, whether they are for couples or single people with dual diagnoses. On the road to recovery, getting support, learning from others, and sharing experiences may all be quite helpful.

Five useful ways to help a spouse who has two diagnoses

It’s critical for both your relationship’s health and the well-being of your partner with a dual diagnosis to support them. Here are five efficient ways to offer assistance:

Become knowledgeable: Find out about the symptoms, available treatments, and dual diagnosis. Being aware of your partner’s experiences will enable you to provide knowledgeable support.

Urge your partner to get professional assistance: Support them in getting therapy and treatment for their dual diagnosis. Offer to be their support system and go with them to appointments.

Encourage open communication by setting up a secure environment in which your spouse may share their thoughts and feelings. Acknowledge their experiences and listen to them without passing judgement.

Being dual diagnosed can be a difficult and drawn-out process, so have patience and understanding. Be kind and patient with your partner while they work through their recuperation. Steer clear of criticism and blaming.

It can be taxing to support a partner who has two diagnoses; look after yourself first. To overcome the obstacles together, put self-care first, ask friends or support groups for help, and think about couples counselling.


It can be difficult and confusing to manage dual diagnoses in a married couple.

This section will answer some commonly asked questions concerning the effects of dual diagnosis on children, the efficacy of couples therapy, the likelihood of a happy marriage, the function of support groups in the therapeutic process, and the ways in which friends and family can provide assistance.

How can a married couple’s children suffer from dual diagnosis?

Because it can create an unstable and stressful atmosphere, dual diagnosis might have an indirect effect on children in a marriage. Prioritising their well-being and getting expert assistance is crucial if you want to lessen the effects and give them a secure, supportive household.

Is there a real benefit to couples therapy for dual diagnosis?

Absolutely, couples who are dealing with dual diagnoses may benefit from couples therapy. It helps manage dual diagnosis on an individual and relational level by offering a safe space to talk about problems, enhance communication, build coping mechanisms, and fortify the bond.

Is dual diagnosis a viable outcome for a marriage?

With the right care and support, it is possible to overcome dual diagnoses in a married couple. It calls for dedication, comprehension, and a readiness to collaborate as a team. Despite these obstacles, the likelihood of a happy marriage can be considerably increased by getting professional assistance and creating a support system.

What part do support groups play in helping couples who are treating dual diagnoses?

Support groups are essential when treating couples with dual diagnoses. They provide support, direction, a sense of belonging, and a sharing of experiences. Support groups offer a secure environment for discussing emotions, picking up coping mechanisms, and getting approval, which promotes empathy and camaraderie.

How can friends and relatives help a married couple who is dealing with two diagnoses?

Support from friends and family can be quite helpful for a couple dealing with two diagnoses. They can provide support, empathy, and a listening ear. Small acts of kindness like offering to watch the kids, helping out around the house, or going to therapy with them can lighten the load and demonstrate compassion and support.

The path ahead

Although managing two diagnoses in a married relationship might be difficult, a better future is possible. Couples can travel through this trip together by getting expert assistance, making use of therapy choices, and developing a strong support network.

Patience, education, and communication are essential. It is feasible to manage dual diagnosis and fortify the relationship between partners with the correct resources and assistance.

Couples can find a way to healing, development, and a happy life together by putting self-care first, getting help when needed, and being devoted to one another. There is hope for a strong and happy marriage, and you are not alone.