What Is Dual Diagnosis?
Dual Diagnosis emerged 20 years ago but is still misunderstood .
Posted Oct 10, 2011
At Creative Care we practice Dual Diagnosis.
Dual Diagnosis emerged as a concept over 20 years ago, but unfortunately is still not well understood by the medical establishment though it is quite simple. It is, however, incredibly effective.
For example, you can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling or a combination of things. And you can have psychiatric disorders that include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, depression, borderline personality disorder, or panic disorder among others.
It is this—the dual nature of the affliction of the vast majority of addicts—that remains largely undiagnosed, untreated, and is greatly responsible for the sky-high incidence of relapse.
Though it was introduced over 20 years ago, Dual Diagnosis is not well understood by our health care system; one reason is that it is not set up to treat Dual Diagnosis.
Instead the US health care system is set up to work in one of two ways.
1. Sequentially. First the addiction and then the underlying psychiatric problem that drove the addict to seek solace in alcohol or sex or drugs in the first place. But unfortunately there is often a tragic time lapse between the two phases and this is often when the relapse occurs.
2. Separately. The addiction and the emotional problem are treated at the same time but by different doctors, neither of which have a comprehensive picture of the patient's health. And frequently each doctor is tentative with prescriptions for fear of exacerbating the other disorder.
But dual diagnosis is key to a true recovery because addiction, in its essence has nothing to do with addiction!
Addiction has to do with trauma, anxiety, depression and biochemical imbalances—and the addict's attempts to regulate and relieve his or her own level of pain. Dual Diagnosis deals with these so that the patient can have a full and lasting recovery.