Nation Wakes Up to Need for Greater Dual Diagnosis Care

Most people are well aware that some percentage of the population grapples with a substance abuse issue, and that trends in the precise substances used may change from time to time, but difficulties that arise as a result remain largely the same. Problems at work, within social lives, and at home can easily arise in the presence of substance abuse issues, and there are many factors that can compound the negative potential of drinking or drug use. But many people are not clear about the fact that experiencing mental health difficulties in conjunction with a substance abuse issue can be a great indication of serious risks to personal health and safety, a lack of understanding that may contribute to further suffering, such as in the case of one young adult with dual diagnoses who recently committed suicide.

The young man’s story may sound exotic–multiple trips in and out of mental health facilities, rehabilitations and relapses with substance abuse, and extreme difficulty finding treatment to collaboratively address both issues–yet his situation is likely shared by many who struggle with substance abuse and mental health concerns at the same time. The man’s parents express their remorse over their inability to find treatment capable of addressing both concerns in a meaningful way, an inability that they believe ultimately led to their son’s death.

Seeking new ways of identifying and treating substance abuse problems in those with mental health difficulties as well as screening addicts for symptoms of poor mental health and following up with comprehensive care are crucial in the effort to help all people, no matter how complex their situations, find their path to living with prosperity, happiness, and a sense of self-empowerment.


© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Billie


    September 11th, 2009 at 3:11 PM

    I think this is so right on. As someone who does suffer from both addiction and mental illness, I feel that dual treatment is so important. I went for years getting help with my mental illness and not my addiction. Despite counseling and medication I still struggled since I wasn’t taking care of ALL the problems at hand. Now that I’m getting help for my addictions as well I’m healthier as a whole. Life is starting to get easier to function. In regards to the last paragraph, addiction is poor mental health. It should be diagnosed and treated the same as any other mental illness.

  • Slice


    September 11th, 2009 at 5:09 PM

    This combination spells D-E-E-P-T-R-O-U-B-L-E to say the least. People in such situations need specialized care and treatment and also the emotional support of their loved ones. What they also need is constant reassurance from their near and dear ones as well as from the medical fraternity. It is best to try and get treatment for such individuals at a stage as early as possible, as the complexities develop with time.

  • Grayson


    September 13th, 2009 at 9:53 AM

    It is sad that there has to be loss for us to finally wake up and smell the coffee when it comes to the need for there being more emphasis placed on achieving dual diagnoses. I have always been of the opinion that there are probably other underlying issues in order for abuse issues to come forth. There may be a history of abuse or mental illness that has laid dormant for many years, but then factor in alcohol and drugs and you have just opened up an even more deadly can of worms for the patient. This may not be accurate one hundred percent of the time but I think that just by recognizing the need for dual diagnosis cements the truth that for many there are always going to be other issues which should not be ignored in their treatment period.

  • Shane


    September 14th, 2009 at 10:05 AM

    In my mind nothing should ever be ruled out when it comes to factors that contribute to mental illness. Everything in life that we do is so interrelated that this only makes sense.

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