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Source: A Public Health Approach to Drug Contr...

Source: A Public Health Approach to Drug Control in Canada, Health Officers Council of British Columbia, 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A dual diagnosis definition is when a person has both a severe mental illness and a substance abuse problem. A few of the mental illness can include schizophrenia, anti-social tendencies, depression and obsessive behaviors. This is a very common occurrence as both problems can contribute to the other. Mental illness can lead people to the overuse of alcohol or drugs because it makes them feel better on a temporary basis. Alcohol and drug abuse can also lead to emotional and mental problems. To achieve a recovery, someone with a dual diagnosis must treat both conditions simultaneously.


The first step a person must go through is detoxification, where the drug or alcohol is purged from their system by a period of abstinence. This can be done as a cold-turkey withdrawal or with medical assistance. After detoxification the patient must undergo treatment for both the drug or alcohol abuse and the mental disorder.


Treatment for the substance abuse can involve various forms of therapy including group and individual sessions. Standard substance abuse recovery programs also work on education and health so that the individual can learn what contributed to their substance abuse issues and how to avoid a relapse. The main goal of all rehabilitation programs is to achieve a long-term recovery so that the patient can return to society as a fully functioning member and maintain their sobriety.


Treatment methods utilized for the psychiatric problem will depend largely upon the diagnosis. Most disorders can be treated with a combination of therapy sessions, both group and individual, and medications. A support group of peers with the same condition has also been found to be beneficial as they can better understand what the individual is going through and assist them through the rough spots.


Family members and friends are frequently involved in some of the counseling sessions for both problems so they can develop a better understanding of the patients issues. Proper education of those who are close to the patient allows them to assist with the rehabilitation process. Education will allow them to see how they might have contributed to the issues previously and to prevent any further contributions while preventing temptation from being placed in front of the recovering addict. By learning about the dual diagnosis they will help the patient stick with their recovery program.


If someone has a problem then they need to be encouraged to acknowledge the problem and to seek help. A little encouragement may be all that is required to put the person on the road to treatment and recovery. Anyone exhibiting signs of addiction or mental health should be guided to a health care professional who can direct them to the next step and advise appropriate treatment methods.


There is no hard-core dual diagnosis definition and different facilities will provide slightly different definitions. The facilities will also treat it slightly different, do the research to find what will work best for the person in question. If they have a problem, help is available.