What are dual diagnosis services? Dual diagnosis services are treatments for people who suffer from co-occurring disorders -- mental illness and substance abuse. Research has strongly indicated that to recover fully, a consumer with co-occurring disorder needs treatment for both problems -- focusing on one does not ensure the other will go away. Dual diagnosis services integrate assistance for each condition, helping people recover from both in one setting, at the same time. Dual diagnosis services include different types of assistance that go beyond standard therapy or medication: assertive outreach, job and housing assistance, family counseling, even money and relationship management. The personalized treatment is viewed as long-term and can be begun at whatever stage of recovery the consumer is in. Positivity, hope and optimism are at the foundation of integrated treatment. How often do people with severe mental illnesses also experience a co-occurring substance abuse problem? There is a lack of information on the numbers of people with co-occurring disorders, but research has shown the disorders are very common. According to reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA):
- Roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse
- Thirty-seven percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness.
- 42.7 percent of individuals with a 12-month addictive disorder had at least one 12-month mental disorder.
- 14.7 percent of individuals with a 12-month mental disorder had at least one 12-month addictive disorder.
- The ECA Survey found that individuals with severe mental disorders were at significant risk for developing a substance use disorder during their lifetime. Specifically:
- 47 percent of individuals with schizophrenia also had a substance abuse disorder (more than four times as likely as the general population).
- 61 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder also had a substance abuse disorder (more than five times as likely as the general population).
- Continuing studies support these findings, that these disorders do appear to occur much more frequently then previously realized, and that appropriate integrated treatments must be developed.
Reviewed by Robert Drake, MD September 2003