Useful Articles

There is no coming to consciousness without pain.
-Carl Jung


Anxiety Disorder

Bipolar Disorder


Dual Diagnosis

Panic Disorder

Social Phobia


What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

A person coping with a drug or alcohol problem in addition to an emotional or psychiatric problem is said to have a “dual diagnosis.” This is a relatively common diagnosis. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that 37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abuses also have at least one serious mental illness; and of all those diagnosed as mentally ill, 29 percent also abused drugs or alcohol. Common psychiatric conditions commonly presented in a dual diagnosis are depressive disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder; anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias; and other psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and personality disorders.

How Does Counseling and Therapy Help?

Sutherland Psychotherapy Associates ("SPA") can help individuals who have received a dual diagnosis receive the treatment they need to fully recover. For some individuals, alcohol or drug dependency began as the primary problem, with symptoms of a psychiatric disorder—such as episodes of depression, rage, hallucinations, or suicide attempts—appearing later. For others, the substance-abuse problem may have developed as the outcome of an individual’s attempt to "self-medicate” to deal with an emotional or psychiatric problem. Ideally, both symptoms should be treated simultaneously. But for any substance abuser, the first step in treatment must be detoxification, a period during which the body is allowed to cleanse itself of alcohol or drugs.

Once detoxification is completed, the patient is ready for dual treatment: rehabilitation for their drug or alcohol problem and treatment for their psychiatric problem. The latter treatment often involves individual or group therapy and may include the use of medications. Adjunct treatment, such as occupational or expressive therapy, also can help the individual understand and communicate his or her feelings and develop better problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Group Therapy

A support group of other people who are recovering from the same condition often proves highly beneficial. In group settings, the dual-diagnosis individual belongs to a community that openly supports recovery while providing a safe haven free of drugs or alcohol. Also, by belonging to a group, the individual has contact with others who may be more advanced in their recovery and will serve as positive role models.

SPA also views educational programs, counseling sessions, and support groups for the patient’s family as integral to the patient’s overall care. The more a patient’s family understands about the patient’s problem and learns how to stop enabling the patient to maintain a drug or alcohol habit, the better the client’s odds of experiencing a lasting recovery.

Recommended Reading

The Dual Diagnosis Recovery Sourcebook, 1st Edition, Ortman, Dennis

Motivating Substance Abusers To Enter Treatment: Working With Family Members, Smith, Jane

Sutherland Psychotherapy, LLC
4989 Peachtree Parkway, Willford Building, Suite 221, Norcross, GA. 30092
Phone: (770) 246-2588     Fax: (770) 248-0537

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