Simply put, dual diagnosis, also known as a co-occurring disorder, is a fairly new concept which describes the practice of treating people who suffer from the conditions of a mental health issues and comorbid addiction. Studies have shown that substance abuse and mental health disorders, often, go hand in hand and that each one may contribute to the occurrence of the other.
Co-occurring treatment facilities combine treatment for psychiatric health and addiction, together, in the recovery process, versus separating the two as had been the common practice before the 1990's. Research shows that the most effective treatment for individuals who are clinically diagnosed with a mental health problem should involve the consideration of both the addiction and the mental illness as the individual goes through the recovery process. This is the primary goal of dual diagnosis programs.
Prior to the 1990's, "Sequential treatment" was the norm and clinicians believed that dividing treatment for mental health and addiction rehabilitation was necessary but, research showed that this led to a higher relapse rate. People were excluded from one treatment or the other until they were considered ready for the other and many did not get the treatment they needed.
The Office of Applied Studies, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reports that in 2002, "Among adults with co-occurring issues, 34% received mental health treatment only, 2% received specialty substance use treatment only, and 12% received both mental health and specialty substance addiction treatment during the past year."
Dual diagnosis offices are changing all of that by providing the proper care, in continuum, for each clinically diagnosed area by qualified professionals who understand how to treat these co-occurring problems.
Anyone seeking help for an addiction or mental health condition should be evaluated for both and treated accordingly. When two issues are in place, they integrate and consequentially, affect each other, so it is vital that any person who meets the diagnostic criteria for a mental health ailment and for an addictive disorder, dual diagnosis, be treated in a qualified dual diagnosis establishment where structured treatment programs are designed to meet their needs.
Mental health disorders are defined in the current version of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association and includes:
- Personality Disorders
- Anxiety Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
Dual Diagnosis Addictions
- Drug Addictions
- Gambling Addictions
- Sex Addictions
- Behavioral Addictions