A very simple definition of dual diagnosis is a person who not only suffers from drug or alcohol addiction but also has a mental or emotional disorder. Examples of these include bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, clinical depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
When a dual diagnosis exists, it may affect a person who is in or needs rehabilitation. This can be especially true if the drug or alcohol addiction actually seems to help the underlying mental or emotional problem.
Further, addiction treatment is sometimes implemented with no knowledge on the part of those administering the treatment that a dual diagnosis exists. This may be caused by the patient not having disclosed this, or having been able to conceal the problem from those conducting rehab programs to the fact that the underlying condition was never diagnosed in the first place.
There have been incidences when those who were in charge of rehabilitation could not figure out why rehab programs were not working. Upon further examination and consideration, however, the fact that the patient was indeed suffering from depression, bi-polar disorder, or another mental or emotional problem came to light, and the treatment program was adjusted to account for this.
In some cases, the patient may enter into rehabilitation with that fact already disclosed, and may even be on medication for the problems. As mentioned earlier, however, this is not always the case and those who operate and work at addiction treatment facilities need to be aware that there is a possibility of dual diagnosis.
Whether or not the problem is known at the beginning, once it is realized, those who come in contact with patients in drug or alcohol rehabilitation may need to be extra vigilant in how they approach the patient, especially during counseling sessions. In addition, it may be necessary to take additional steps to see that a patient is protected from injuring himself and others.
There are some addiction treatment facilities, like Above It All Treatment Center, that actually provide case managers for those diagnosed with dual diagnosis as a result of trauma during childhood or at other times. A patient in this situation is under the care of both a clinician and a case manager, who make sure that the patient has access to treatment for both his mental or emotional problem and addiction treatment. In addition, they collaborate with everyone involved in every aspect of the patient’s treatment.
Sometimes, in order to facilitate treatment, and make it easier on both the patient and care providers, efforts are made to place the patient in the care of someone who can provide both clinical treatment for the mental/emotional disorder as well as drug abuse counseling and other aspects of drug rehabilitation. This allows the patient to only have to deal with one person, and gives the care provider the opportunity to see what is happening in both areas of treatment, without having to constantly consult with other personnel. The result is a greater overall chance of success in treatment of both problems.