How can a dual diagnosis treatment program be evaluated? Dual diagnosis is a model of treatment for patients with concomitant drug addiction and mild or severe psychiatric disorders such as depression, generalized anxiety, psychosis, or schizophrenia. Making a dual diagnosis in someone who is abusing substances can often be difficult, because drug abuse itself can produce symptoms that resemble a psychiatric disorder.
Integrated Treatment – Dual diagnosis programs first developed in the mid- to late-1980s when staff at rehabilitation clinics found themselves facing hurdles in the treatment of patients who, in addition to abusing drugs, suffered from underlying psychiatric disorders or mental disabilities. Drug abuse treatment programs did not have the expertise to deal with the full spectrum of disorders that this group of patients presented.
Dual diagnosis services emerged out of the need to integrate treatments for those requiring various types of help that go beyond the standard therapeutic approaches to dealing with substance abuse. These patients often required a combination of detoxification and inpatient care, drug counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy, psychiatric help, job and housing assistance, relationship counseling and other forms of therapy. Many patients required a long-term approach and after-care that rehabilitation facilities were ill-equipped to provide.
Challenges of Dual Diagnosis Treatment – Patients with dual diagnosis present physicians with a number of challenges: those with concomitant mental illness and drug addiction are more likely to exhibit signs of aggression, violence, and medication noncompliance. A number of these patients may also be homeless or jailed. They are also more likely to relapse while in treatment.
Comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment may entail hospitalization and and extended period of inpatient care while the patient undergoes medical detoxification and psychiatric evaluation.
Advantages of Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment – The advantage of an integrated dual diagnosis program is that it offers appropriate coordinated treatment of concomitant disorders and addiction, under the supervision of professionals working under one roof. An effective dual diagnosis treatment is based on the trust that is established between the patient and their physicians and counselors, as part of a carefully tailored program that not only addresses the patient’s substance abuse, but their degree of motivation and self-esteem.
Ongoing Social Support – Often, those with dual diagnosis are demoralized and suffer from a lack of confidence in their ability to overcome addiction. Effective treatment engages the patient in activities that will help them to set goals, build confidence and through support and counseling, empower them to achieve the changes that they need to make to experience the full benefits of recovery. Ongoing, community-based social support is critical for those with a dual diagnosis as they learn to deal with stress, build social networks, move into new housing and take up new activities as part of their recovery process.