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Dual Diagnosis


When mental health issues and addiction occur together, patients require treatment for both of their conditions. Dual diagnosis is a concept in addiction treatment that looks at both the psychiatric problem and the addiction problem to implement therapies that will allow the patient to succeed in recovery. A number of treatment facilities in Tennessee offer dual diagnosis treatment programs to deal with underlying mental health problems that often contribute to addiction.

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

The term “dual diagnosis” refers to two separate health issues that must be addressed during the treatment process. Individuals may show signs of depression, anxiety or other problems that will affect their ability to overcome the addiction. Dual diagnosis programs in Tennessee include evaluation and treatment of the mental health problem, so that the individual can effectively take part in the addiction therapy.

Mental Health and Addiction

Mental health and addiction can be intimately connected. Addiction counselors noticed that a large number of patients exhibited symptoms of psychiatric conditions along with their addiction problem. In some cases, the condition pre-existed, and the patient abused the substance in an effort to control their symptoms. However, addiction itself can cause mental health conditions to worsen and can initiate additional problems.

Types of Mental Health Disorders That Occur With Addiction

Addiction researchers found that individuals with mental health conditions often abused certain types of substances to help them deal with their symptoms:

  • Depression and addiction – Individuals with depression often used alcohol to lift their mood or to make them more social.
  • OCD and Addiction – Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder often use opiates, such as heroin or prescription pain pills, to control their repetitive behaviors.
  • PTSD and Addiction – Individuals dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder may use alcohol to relieve their feelings of isolation, or may use opiates to relieve sleep problems.
  • Eating disorders and Addiction – Individuals with eating disorders often use stimulants to depress appetite and to cover other symptoms of their problem.
  • Anxiety and addiction – Individuals with anxiety disorders often use opiates to help them to relax and function normally, and then find they have become addicted.

Statistics on Mental Health and Addiction

The National Drug Abuse Institute notes that individuals who are addicted are twice as likely as the general population to also have an anxiety or mood disorder. The disorder may have existed prior to becoming addicted, but substance abuse itself can also contribute to mental health problems. This complex interplay makes it particularly important to have the problem addressed along with the addiction.

Treatments for Mental Health Conditions

  • Psychopharmacology – A number of mental health conditions can be treated with medications, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, or anticonvulsants. These drugs can help to control symptoms and allow individuals to live normal lives.
  • Psychotherapy – Many patients benefit from psychotherapy that helps them to understand how their condition affects their lives, and what they can do to minimize its’ effect.
  • Behavioral management – Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective method for recognizing negative thought patterns and applying new behaviors that can improve outcomes.

How Drug Treatment Centers Dual Diagnosis Can Help

Dual diagnosis programs recognize the complex interaction between mental illness and addiction. These programs focus on evaluation of patients to make an accurate diagnosis, as well as treatment to control the symptoms of the condition. This treatment is done along with standard addiction treatment to maximize the odds for success in recovery. Individual counseling sessions, group counseling, and cognitive behavioral therapy can be useful for both the mental health treatment and addiction therapy.

Aftercare for Dual Diagnosis Conditions

Aftercare is even more important for dual diagnosis patients who may require renewal of prescriptions for medications, as well as continued counseling to keep their symptoms under control. Support groups for dual diagnosis problems can provide patients with social interaction and practical advice for managing both their mental health problem and the addiction.

If you suspect that a mental health problem may be contributing to addiction, contact a Tennessee treatment center today to discuss how a dual diagnosis program can help you become a more effective, drug and alcohol-free person.