The integrated treatment approach for patients with ‘dual diagnoses’ first began to emerge in the early 1980s in New York. It developed out of therapies offered by an outpatient mental health clinic where counselors saw a number of patients suffering from mental illness as well as substance abuse problems. Few facilities offered the full range of help these individuals required, because mental health clinics were not equipped to help those with drug abuse problems, while drug-abuse treatment programs were not able to offer the expertise required for treating those with coexisting mental illness. Dual diagnosis programs were developed to encompass a broader spectrum of therapeutic treatments for this group of people.
Broad Spectrum Treatment – When people are suffering from mental problems or disorders that alter their mental perceptions, they may be more likely than other people to suffer from several complications. Over the past several decades, medical and psychological professionals who have taken time to study these complications, particularly where they involve associated drug abuse, have come up with dual diagnosis treatment centers to offer this difficult-to-treat group of people the full spectrum of support and treatment they need.
Integrated Treatment of Multiple Disorders – These are services that were not available in the past. Dual diagnosis is a treatment that can be offered to people who are suffering from mental illnesses in combination with other difficulties, such as drug dependency and addiction. Most of the patients who are undergoing treatment in dual diagnosis programs tend to have a number of issues that can include:
Patients with multiple disorders can find it hard it to concentrate in school and at work. Children in vulnerable circumstances, for example, may feel like they are not performing as well as their parents expect them to, and this can be discouraging, leading them to seek situations where they are accepted. They may end up becoming involved with gangs, drugs or other destructive behaviors. They do this all in the name of looking for identity and acceptance. When this search for acceptance leads to drug abuse and other destructive behavior, and is combined with depression, disability or other mental illness, they may require a broad spectrum of treatment to help them to overcome a pattern of substance abuse and at the same time, develop confidence, self-esteem and life skills.
Making a dual diagnosis can often be difficult for medical professionals. A pattern of regular substance abuse can produce psychiatric symptoms in certain individuals. In these cases, it can be difficult for a physician or psychiatrist to identify what the underlying condition is, whether it is a pre-existing mental illness, or a state that has emerged as a result of drug abuse. These can be difficult to differentiate.