Saint Louis Dual Diagnosis (314) 558-2297

A dual diagnosis takes place when an addiction accompanies a diagnosed mental disorder. It can be the drug addiction or the mental disorder that is the primary condition. The addiction and the mental disorder must be treated simultaneously in order for there to be meaningful and life-long recovery.

Dual diagnosis treatment requires a rehabilitation center that is equipped to deal with both mental disorders and addiction disorders. To find comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment centers, contact Saint Louis Drug Treatment Centers at (314) 558-2297.

Understanding Dual Diagnosis Disorders

To understand co-occurring disorders, it must be understood that drug and alcohol addiction are mental disorders, or disease. The occurrence of two mental disorders, where symptoms overlap, makes treatment a much more involved process. Changes have been occurred in brain function with the onset of the primary illness that the second disorder aggravates. Certain mental disorders are risk factors for addiction. The same is true of certain addictions being risk factors for mental illness.

Types of mental health disorders most often seen in dual diagnosis:

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

It is difficult to say which disorder would be considered 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 increase the pattern of change 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.


  • More than half of all men and women with a drug addiction, alcohol addiction or substance abuse problem also suffer from at least one mental health problem as well.
  • 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".
  • Thirty to 40 percent of all alcoholics who have had the disease for more than five years are concurrently suffering from mental illness.
  • Those men and women who are suffering with a Dual Diagnosis are at a high risk for suicide - much higher than those who only suffer from addiction or mental illness.

What Dual Diagnosis Treatments are Available?

Co-occurring disorders treatment is the same as other drug addiction treatments, but there are additional psychological and behavioral components to the treatment resulting from the added effects of the second disorder. Elements of both disorders must be addressed and are equally 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

Drug treatment centers have skilled medical professionals and specially-trained clinicians who are certified to administer medications in the treatment of mental disorders, and conduct necessary medical assessments and evaluations that provide the staff with a full view of the issues and effects of related disorders that allow them to efficiently and expertly treat the patient.

Facilities that provide dual diagnostic programs are uniquely qualified to offer the complex care required. 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.

After care services and mental health management after dual diagnosis treatment is essential in a dual diagnosis treatment program. Education, and training in the tools and skills needed 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 life-long recovery.

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.

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