Dual Diagnosis in Nashville, TN

A dual diagnosis is made when drug addiction accompanies a diagnosed mental disorder. For a successful recovery, the addiction and the mental disorder must be treated simultaneously. Dual diagnosis treatment addresses both conditions in order to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient.

At Nashville Drug Treatment Centers, staff, mental health professionals and addiction specialists all work together to provide patients with the most customized and effective treatment plan possible. To find out more about your options for dual diagnosis treatment centers, call us at (615) 523-1053.

Psychological Disorders and Addiction

To understand the complexity of a dual diagnosis situation it must first be agreed that drug and alcohol addiction are mental disorders, or mental disease. The occurrence of two mental disorders, where symptoms overlap, causes a difficult treatment program. Changes have been made in brain function with the primary illness that the second disorder aggravates. Certain mental illness and disorder are risk factors for addiction. The same is true of certain addictions being risk factors for mental illness.

Types of mental health illnesses most often seen in a dual diagnosis:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders
  • Depression
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety

It is hard to say which disorder is the primary agent. Addiction and mental disease effect the same areas of the brain. If there is a weakness in an area of the brain due to the impact on brain chemistry from one disorder, the effects of the other disorder can then change the pattern of disorder even more.

For example: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder. Patients may abuse alcohol to combat the anxiety and fear that OCD produces.

The ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) reports that "approximately 20% of the people who have an anxiety disorder also have a substance use disorder".


Treatments for co-existing disorders are the same as other programs for drug addiction. Any difference is the additional psychological and behavioral components to the addiction treatment that are unique to the mental disorder aspect. These elements should be addressed, and are important in terms of relapse prevention, as one disorder will trigger the other. Medicinal needs vary by individual, but psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral management is essential in every case. As with any drug addiction treatment program, it is vital that certain concepts be learned:

  • Education about illness and recovery
  • Providing tools to combat triggers
  • Relapse prevention
  • Self-care
  • Ways to manage stress
  • How to regulate emotions
  • Aftercare

Treatment centers have the skilled medical professionals and specially-trained clinicians who are certified to administer psychotherapeutic medications in treatment of mental disorders, and incorporate necessary medical assessments and evaluations that increase the chances of long-term recovery.

They are qualified to offer the complex care required for a dual diagnosis. Intensive counseling and therapy sessions are structured to include a focus on both dually diagnosed disorders with attention to each of the separate illnesses and additional elements of care that educate on how they respond and react to the other.

Aftercare Services

Aftercare is essential in a dual diagnosis treatment program. Education, skills, and tools to recognize and respond appropriately to situations where either illness may trigger the other give the recovering addict a way to manage and plan relapse prevention strategies to use throughout the recovery process.

Continued access to counseling and group therapy is included in the aftercare program. Aftercare supports the patient through resources and further education, as well as family counseling. Patients are encouraged to seek community resources and attend NA or AA meetings on a regular basis.

If you or someone you know needs help for the treatment of co-occurring disorders, call Nashville Drug Treatment Centers at (615) 523-1053 today to hear options.

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