What is a Dual Diagnosis – Addiction Example

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"What is a Dual Diagnosis? " is a perfect example of a paper on addiction.   A person is said to have a dual diagnosis when he/she suffers from a mental disorder along with being caught in the problem of substance use. “ The term “ dual diagnosis” is often used to refer to the subset of possible comorbidities that involve a substance use disorder and a severe mental illness – usually schizophrenia or bipolar disorder” (Thombs 113). Rate of problems related to mental health is higher in people who take drugs and consume alcohol in comparison to others who do not do any or both of these.

Likewise, patients that suffer from mental illness are quite likely to sustain their substance use habits throughout their life as compared to people who are mentally healthy (Mueser, Noordsy, and Drake 6). Therefore, it can be said that the disorders of an individual’ s mood serve as the risk factor for other disorders that are related to the use of the substance and vice versa (Westermeyer, Weiss, and Ziedonis 69). Depression, anxiety and tension are some of the types of upsets in the mental health (Department of Health cited in The Scottish Government).

Substances most commonly abused are marijuana, heroin, tobacco, alcohol and alcoholic medicines. Treatment of such people requires the medical practitioner to study the history of the individual and find out which of the two occurred with the individual first. Either he/she acquired the mental illness first which probably caused him/her to consume drugs in order to relieve the tension, or else, he/she first became addicted to drugs which later led the individual to the deteriorated mental health and low self-esteem.

There are many ways this can happen. For instance, some people get the psychotic episode triggered upon smoking marijuana (“ Dual Diagnosis” ). The confusion many service providers may get into in such cases is the query; how to efficiently prevent the individuals from consuming harmful substances without having complete knowledge or control over the underlying factors that are very personal to the individuals and that make a fundamental cause of their association with the substance? “ It's a fine question but the truth so does everyone else, the DD client's issues are just deeper and more all-engulfing” (Thomas).

Once someone gets addicted to a substance, he/she starts taking it more frequently than others would mostly do. In such circumstances, all an intervention can do is to reduce the frequency with which the substance is consumed by the client. Thus, a service provider may effectively reduce the quantity of substance consumption, though the achievement of quality in intervention requires consideration of the problem at a much detailed and deeper level. Many service providers resort to such methods of treatment as counselling, prescribing substitutes for substances and encouraging group work.

Mostly, these are the only techniques available to most practitioners, and their usability is limited. Reaching the correct underlying factors is extremely essential for appropriate treatment, which can not be achieved unless the addiction has been reduced to a considerably lower level. “ If your client has chronic substance dependence, making substance treatment successful has to be the goal over accessing mental health services” (Thomas). The service of mental health assumes the main responsibility of offering comprehensive care to the people that suffer from such mental problems as co-morbid substance use problems and schizophrenia.

Mental health service can be used to provide people with long term care and supervision than most services related to substance misuse can offer. According to the results of the research conducted by (Menezes cited in Hughes 5), one-third of the total number of users of mental health service are individuals that have combined problems of mental health. Cannabis, alcohol and other stimulants are some of the most widely consumed things by people suffering from an extreme level of mental illness.

Not many of the people in such conditions require aid on a physical level, though they are caught in several problems which they have to deal with individually. Such problems include but are not limited to financial issues, complicated legal matters, deteriorated mental and physical health, and inefficient performance at work. Being caught in extremely complicated circumstances, their needs are most often, too high to be met by the treatment they are offered. People that have a dual diagnosis are commonly thought to be subjected to two fundamental problems. Instead of perceiving their problems like this, it is, indeed, more customary to think of them as people with unusual needs related to accommodation, physical and mental health, and distorted relationships with peers.

Such people are quite likely to commit suicide. Treatment of dual diagnosis is not a one time job. No service provider can take a case as regular work. Complications vary from case to case. In a vast majority of cases, support needs to be continued over a long period of time. Patients require therapeutic treatment to fight the two abnormalities simultaneously, and to take proper medications in time while staying away from the substance abuse (Ellis-Christensen).

The theory of dual diagnosis fundamentally revolves around the concept that the patient should be treated for both the conditions simultaneously (Bruning), which is often not possible to achieve for a single agency, therefore services often do not manage to close the gap in delivering appropriate support in dual diagnosis working when only one agency assumes the complete responsibility. Traditionally, treatment for schizophrenia and substance use disorders has been organized as “ sequential” (e. g., one cannot treat schizophrenia until the substance use problem is under control, or vice versa), or “ parallel” (each problem is treated simultaneously, but with different providers often from different agencies, and frequently with different philosophies.

(Mueser et al. cited in O'Donohue and Cummings 349). Appropriate treatment requires the service providers to work in mutual collaboration with one another (Watson and Hawkings 60). In order to close the gap in delivering appropriate support in dual diagnosis working, it is imperative that a unified approach is taken to address the complex and interrelated needs of people suffering from dual diagnosis (Rassool 232).


Bruning, K. C. “What Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?” 25 Feb. 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2011. .

“Dual diagnosis.” State Government of Victoria. 2010. Web. 25 Mar. 2011.

Ellis-Christensen, Tricia. “What is a Dual Diagnosis?” 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2011. .

Hughes, Liz. “Closing the gap: Dual diagnosis framework.” pp. 1-25. Oct. 2006. Web. 25 Mar. 2011. .

O'Donohue, William T., and Cummings, Nicholas A. Evidence-based adjunctive treatments. USA: Academic Press Publications, 2008. Print.

Mueser, Kim T., Noordsy, Douglas L., and Drake, Robert E. Integrated treatment for dual disorders: a guide to effective practice. NY: The Guilford Press, 2003. Print.

Rassool, G. Hussein. Dual diagnosis nursing. UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2006. Print.

“Screening, identification and service planning.” The Scottish Government. 10 Dec. 2007. Web.5 Mar. 2011. .

Thomas, Mat C. “Pointers on Working With Dual Diagnosis.” 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2011. .

Thombs, Dennis L. Introduction to addictive behaviors. NY: The Guilford Press, 2006. Print.

Watson, Stuart, and Hawkings, Caroline. Dual Diagnosis: Good Practice Handbook. Turning Point, 2007. Print.

Westermeyer, Joseph; Weiss, Roger D., and Ziedonis, Douglas. Integrated treatment for mood and substance use disorders. USA: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003. Print.

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