An estimated 20 million Americans are currently struggling with addiction. Many of these people are also struggling with mental health disorders. It’s easy for some people to believe that they just took the wrong path in life, this isn’t the case though. Dual diagnosis disorders are quite common. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has reported that, compared to our general population, people with substance use disorders are about two times as likely to have mood and anxiety disorders. And the reverse is also true. Individuals that live in Tennessee and suffer from both substance addictions and mental health disorders should seek treatment at dual diagnosis treatment centers in Tennessee.

Both substance use and mental health disorders can get worse if left untreated. When a mental health condition occurs alongside a substance use disorder (SUD), a dual diagnosis treatment plan is vital.

Dual Diagnosis Facts

  • The more severe the mental illness, the greater the possibility that the person will also use or abuse an illegal substance.
  • The most commonly used drug is alcohol. It is followed by marijuana and cocaine.
  • Males ages 18 to 44 have the highest risk.
  • Adolescents with serious behavior problems are 7 times more likely to have used or abused a drug or alcohol in the past month.
  • Substance abuse complicates almost every element of care for the person who has a mental illness.

What Is A Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is a term that is used to describe an individual who is diagnosed with a mental illness and a substance use disorder at the same time. Dual diagnosis is a term that is used to describe an individual who is diagnosed with a mental illness and a substance use disorder at the same time. It is estimated that more than half of the people who have serious mental illnesses also have SUDs. Dual diagnosis is also sometimes referred to as co-occurring disorders or comorbidity.

Actually, comorbidity describes two or more disorders occurring in the same person. They can occur at the same time or one after the other. In addition, it implies that interactions between the two disorders can make both of them worse. For a person who has a mental illness and also uses drugs or alcohol, it can be difficult to find a facility that will treat both disorders.

Finding a Program

Many programs that treat someone with a mental disorder are not prepared to treat a substance abuser and vice versa. As a result, people with dual diagnoses often are bounced around from one treatment program to another. There are dual diagnosis treatment centers in Tennessee that has a team approach for people with dual diagnoses. At Nashville Recovery, they can get the much-needed treatment for both disorders at the same time by a unified team.

Why Do SUDs and Mental Disorders Occur Together?

Although substance use and mental health disorders often occur together, it doesn’t mean that one caused the other, even if one appeared first. The fact is, it can be difficult to tell which came first. Researchers on the subject believe that there are three possibilities about why substance and mental health occur together. They are:

  • Common risk factors might have a hand in both the mental disorder and the substance use disorder. These factors include:
    • Genetics
    • Stress
    • Trauma
  • Mental disorders can lead to drug use and SUDs. As an example, people with mental disorders may use drugs or alcohol to try to feel better, even temporarily. This is called self-medication. In addition, mental disorders may change the brain to make you more susceptible to becoming addicted.
  • Substance use and addiction can also lead to the development of a mental disorder. Substance use can change the brain in ways that make you more likely to develop a mental disorder.

Why Must They Be Treated Together?

More and more, the psychiatric and drug counseling professions agree that both disorders must be treated simultaneously. Studies have shown that when mental illness and substance abuse are treated by the same treatment team, psychotic episodes and suicide attempts decrease. And the patient’s denial is a major part of the problem.

Patients with a dual diagnosis do not fit in well in most Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups. However, people who develop positive social networks have a better chance of managing their illnesses.

What Are Different Elements of Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

For the best chance of a full recovery, treatment should include:

  • Specialists in substance abuse and mental health treatment work together to make sure the patient’s mental health and substance abuse needs are met.
  • One of the key elements in treating co-occurring disorders is psychotherapy.
  • Prescription medication might also be required.
  • Therapy programs that allow the client to make choices have been found to be the most reliable and widely used method.
  • During the treatment process, all members of the household, including partners, spouses, children, and any other members should be involved whether they receive individual treatment or take part in family meetings.

Signs and Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders

You should see a psychiatrist or an addiction specialist to be officially diagnosed with a dual diagnosis. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, you can detect when something is off with yourself or someone you care about.

Warning Signs of a Dual Diagnosis

  • It is difficult to leave others, even friends and family, and associate with new groups and activities.
  • It is hard to maintain good grades or good performance at work or school.
  • Taking part in behaviors that are harmful to yourself or others is solved by lying or stealing.
  • You are staying up late at night and sleeping during the day.
  • Quitting drinking, drugs, or gambling and repeatedly relapsing.
  • Often speaking about regrets about the habit.
  • The search for a higher high by using higher doses of drugs, stronger drinks, or more extreme methods.
  • Trying to quit or reduce your doses of harmful substances.

How is Dual Diagnosis Treated?

A dual diagnosis treatment program is essential for treating both disorders at the same time. If you receive help for one issue and not the other, you will be trapped in a dangerous cycle. Only a small percentage of people with co-occurring disorders receive treatment for both. In 2011, it was determined that only 12.4% of people with addiction and psychiatric disorders got treatment for both mental health and addiction.

Treatment Approaches

There are several treatment approaches for treating co-occurring disorders:

  • Partial–Partial treatment means treating only the disorder that is considered primary (occurred first).
  • Sequential–Sequential treatment involves first treating the primary condition, and then treating the secondary condition after the primary is stabilized.
  • Parallel–This treatment involves the patient receiving substance abuse treatment from one healthcare provider and mental health care from another.
  • Integrated–Integrated treatment is a combination of interventions into a single treatment package. In this approach, both disorders are considered primary.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has indicated that the integrated treatment plan is in the best interests of the patients, programs, funders, and systems.

Treatment Includes:

Medically-assisted Detox

There are many different addiction therapies that occur during medically-assisted detox. Detoxing from substances is necessary though to receive addiction treatment. Some of the medically-assisted detox services that dual diagnosis treatment centers in Tennessee offer include:

Behavioral Therapies:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Individual Therapy
  • Exposure Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy


  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants

Support Groups

Support groups provide a place where people can share ideas and tips about how to handle day-to-day challenges. Also, people in addiction support groups can provide emotional and social support to one another.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Dual diagnosis is a term that is used to describe an individual who is diagnosed with a mental illness and a substance use disorder at the same time. Although there is no limit to which substance will co-occur with which mental health disorder, certain pairings occur more often than others. A dual diagnosis treatment center in Tennessee can provide effective treatment for the following disorders:

  • Bipolar disorder and Alcoholism–People who struggle with bipolar disorder usually reach for alcohol to manage their symptoms. Often, they believe that alcohol will help their episodes of depression, but it only makes the issue worse.
  • Stress and substance abuse–For people who can’t manage their stress, abusing substances feels like the quickest way to get relief. If the patient doesn’t learn proper stress management, relapse is inescapable.
  • Anxiety and Benzodiazepine abuse–Benzodiazepines are common medications to help manage anxiety, but they are often misused. In an effort to try to manage their anxiety on their own, people often take more than the prescribed dosage.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Alcoholism–For people with OCD, the calm and elevated mood that alcohol brings is a much-needed relief. Unfortunately, that temporary relief usually causes more severe symptoms.
  • Depression and Alcoholism–People who already struggle with deep feelings of hopelessness and sadness will only make their symptoms worse by drinking alcohol. They tend to believe that drinking helps ease their symptoms which traps them in a dangerous cycle.
  • ADHD and Alcoholism or Marijuana Abuse–A recent survey showed that more than 15% of adults with ADHD had abused or had a dependence on alcohol or drugs during the previous year. This is nearly three times the rate for adults without ADHD.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Alcoholism and SUD–People with PTSD are three times more likely to abuse drugs than people without it. Also, 50% of people with PTSD abuse alcohol. Needless to say, these substances only relieve the symptoms temporarily.

Find Your Answer at Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers in Tennessee

If you’re struggling with a substance use disorder you might also have a mental illness that you don’t even know about. Maybe you already know about your mental disorder and have been attempting to treat it yourself, only to make your mental health and substance use disorder worse.

In Nashville, Tennessee, here at Nashville Recovery, we have mental health facilities that work as a team to treat your dual diagnosis. Our team of professionals can help you learn to deal with your mental condition and recover from your substance use disorder. Dual diagnosis treatment is not effective unless it addresses both the mental health disorder and your addiction history.

How much care you need depends on how severe your substance abuse is. Our family of companies can get you from detox to intensive outpatient programs, to sober living facilities. In outpatient rehab programs, you can carry on working, attending school, and caring for family members while receiving dual diagnosis treatment. Contact us today.


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