Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Dual diagnosis is a term used to describe people with mental illness who have coexisting problems with drugs and/or alcohol. The relationship between the two is complex, and the treatment of people with co-occurring substance abuse (or substance dependence) and mental illness is more complicated than the treatment of either condition alone. This is unfortunately a common situation—many people with mental illness have ongoing substance abuse problems, and many people who abuse drugs and alcohol also experience mental illness.
Treatment of individuals with mental illness and substance abuse is complicated as previously discussed. Of primary importance is addressing any life-threatening complications of intoxication.
Although many treatment programs claim to include dual diagnosis treatment, it is often simply an afterthought. An exceptional treatment program will develop a clear clinical program for the specific purpose of treating the underlying issues that may fuel an addiction or eating disorder. Without comprehensive clinical assessment and focused treatment of the dual diagnosis, the client is at high risk for relapse. Dual diagnosis treatment must be a primary part of the treatment program, not simply an ancillary treatment option.
Dual diagnosis treatment addresses not only the substance abuse or disorder, but the underlying psychiatric diagnosis as well. In a treatment programs that executes comprehensive assessment is the first step in the treatment objective
The goal of dual diagnosis treatment is to help the client develop a clear plan for the future, and where indicated, refer them for more structured assistance to continue treatment after discharge.