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What is a Dual Diagnosis Program?

Essentially, diagnosis refers to the process through which health issue or disease is identified by examining the symptoms and running diagnostic tests. Dual Diagnosis, on the other hand, refers to the diagnosis of two different ailments which may overlap with one another. Generally, this situation arises in mental health where the patient is diagnosed with a serious mental disorder such as clinical depression or anxiety along with substance abuse issues. The amalgamation of these two issues, where one directly affects the other one creates a conundrum for healthcare professionals.

A person who has been diagnosed with two different ailments or illnesses is often asked to treat one disease before the other. In such cases, there is a separate treatment plan and procedure for each disease, health care professionals cannot simply treat both diseases with one treatment plan. In order to help healthcare institutions and more importantly, patients suffering from dual diseases, the dual diagnosis program was formulated.

Prior to the development of the dual diagnosis program, patients suffering from a mental disorder such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorders who also were caught up in substance abuse were told to get clean before they could get treatment for their mental health disorders. This led to further deterioration in the health condition of such individuals as unfortunately, substance abuse is usually driven by a mental health disorder. Patients suffering from depression or PTSD tend to opt for intoxicating substances such as alcohol –in other words, they couldn’t possibly get clean without getting treatment for the mental health disorders which drove them to indulge in substance abuse.

Recognizing this glaring flaw in the existing healthcare programs, a dual diagnosis program was introduced in the early 21st century. What makes Dual Diagnosis Program different from other methods of treatment is that this program takes the most effective aspects of psychiatric care and substance abuse treatment in order to help patients suffering from both issues. In contrast with other treatment methods, the dual diagnosis program does not draw a line between the drug addiction and mental health. By amalgamating the two treatment plans and considering substance abuse and mental health issues as interrelated issues, dual diagnosis programs are considerably more effective.

According to a report, over 4 million Americans suffered from dual diagnosis. Therefore, it is safe to say that dual diagnosis program could potentially provide effective treatment to a large number of Americans struggling with two interrelated health issues. Apart from existing mechanism to deny patients struggling with a dual diagnosis of mental health care until they get clean, there are other issues as well. The denial within the patients themselves to recognize that their substance abuse stems from an underlying mental disorder. Or they are in denial that they have a substance abuse problem. It is imperative that the patients realize that they suffer from both diseases in order to begin their recovery process.

Once people suffering from the aforementioned issues realize they need help, they can now easily get treatment for both issues simultaneously. Dual diagnosis programs allow people to overcome both problems altogether as each is directly related to the other.

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