Dual Diagnosis Treatment

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”DUAL DIAGNOSIS TREATMENT” font_container=”tag:h1|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]A dual diagnosis patient is one who has been diagnosed with both a drug addiction and a mental health disorder. Treatment programs are often designed to treat either drug addiction or mental health disorders, but not both. Dual diagnosis programs combine treatment for addiction and mental health in a single program.


A person with a mental health disorder may take drugs to self medicate and alleviate the symptoms. At other times mental health disorders, like depression, are caused by prolonged drug use and addiction. The relationship between the two can be very close, and treating only the addiction or mental health of a patient has lead to high rates of relapse.


Before the 1980s drug addiction and mental health was treated separately. Over time it became clear that the two disorders were closely related and that the traditional method of treating them separately was ineffective. In 1984 the first dual diagnosis program was introduced in a psychiatric facility in New York City. The core structure was based on these principles:

  • Patients with addiction were welcomed into treatment regardless of their motivation.
  • Therapists focused on encouraging the patient rather than being confrontational
  • Therapists accepted the patient’s symptoms in their entirety
  • Group therapy sessions were provided where patients could discuss addiction from their own point of view


Dual diagnosis has proven to be the most effective way to treat individuals with addiction and mental health disorders. With the need to establish guidelines, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration created two sets of standards that outlined seven core principles to help identify dual diagnosis programs:

  1. Does the program focus on mental health, drug addiction, or both?
  2. Are mentally ill patients referred somewhere else, or is education and peer support provided for both drug addiction and mental illness?
  3. Does the program screen for both drug addiction and mental health disorders, or does it focus on just one?
  4. Is drug addiction and mental health treatment provided and assessed throughout the entire course of treatment, and is medication for mental health disorders supported by the facility?
  5. Are mentally ill patients provided with transitional services to reenter society after the program, and do they receive follow-up care for their psychiatric illness?
  6. Are therapists qualified for both mental health disorders and drug addiction, and is there a qualified person to prescribe and monitor psychiatric medications?
  7. Are staff members trained in the differences between psychiatric disorders and drug addiction, and can they respond to psychiatric emergencies with the appropriate care?

Dual diagnosis programs must meet these guidelines. They are designed to treat both the patients mental health and drug addiction, which has proven to be an effective means of treatment. For those who suffer from a mental health disorder and drug addiction, this type of treatment is designed specifically for them.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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