People with a dual diagnosis suffer from both substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at the same time. Mental health professionals and addiction specialists are well-aware that these individuals often have worse outcomes than those who only deal with one issue. A team of Norwegian and American researchers identified the factors that commonly help or hinder successful recovery in people who suffer from co-occurring disorders. Read on to learn about the findings of the study so you can learn about what helps and what hinders recovery from a dual diagnosis.
What Hinders Recovery From a Dual Diagnosis
Roughly one-third of all U.S. adults with a non-substance-based mental health diagnosis also have a pattern of substance abuse. The rate of substance abuse increases to about 50 percent for people who suffer from severe mental health issues. The same findings hold true in reverse. At least a third of U.S. adults who suffer from alcohol abuse suffer from a mental health issue. Over 50 percent of adults who are affected by drug abuse also qualify for mental health diagnosis.
Some people who are affected by a mental illness develop serious problems with drugs or alcohol. Additionally, some people who are affected by drug or alcohol addiction eventually develop a mental illness. Dual diagnosis is a comorbid condition. This means that there is a strong relationship between substance abuse problems and mental illness. In turn, this worsens the impact on affected individuals.
Additionally, researchers found that people who suffer from co-occurring disorders are less likely to receive proper medical care. They are also less likely to participate actively in available treatment programs and are less likely to respond to medication.
Dual Diagnosis Recovery
Doctors have found ways to help people recover from multiple disorders through dual diagnosis. Substance use can significantly decrease the effectiveness of mental illness treatment. Therefore, the recovery process frequently begins with substance detoxification and treatments that promote drug or alcohol abstinence.
The appropriate treatment may include a variety of methods. This could include medication, behavioral therapy or psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Even when substance use is an ongoing problem, doctors can often find treatment approaches that provide some relief for their dual diagnosis patients.
Dual diagnosis treatment can take place in a range of settings, including inpatient programs or residential facilities, outpatient programs, and mutual self-help groups. There are many factors that can help determine the right place for you to get treatment. These include the severity of the substance problems involved, the severity of the separate mental illness involved, and the ability or willingness of the individual to participate actively in the recovery process.
What Helps and Hinders Dual-Diagnosis Recovery?
Researchers analyzed the factors that can either help or hinder recovery when using a dual diagnosis treatment. Much of the evidence focused on either substance problems or separately diagnosable mental illnesses rather than addressing the unique issues of dual diagnosis. Researchers also wanted to improve the level of knowledge of effective dual diagnosis treatment to the public.
After completing their review and analysis, the researchers concluded that three main factors that helped recovery:
- An emphasis on treatment goals that contribute to establishing a fulfilling daily routine
- A treatment outlook that emphasizes recovering individuals’ strengths rather than their weaknesses
- A treatment approach that stresses the importance of reconnecting socially with others and forming beneficial support networks
Conversely, two factors significantly hindered recovery:
- A treatment approach that fails to take individual patient differences into account
- A larger system of treatment that addresses substance problems and other diagnosable mental health issues in an overly complicated, non-integrated manner