Part of the Solution
Struggling with a dual diagnosis puts an extra twist on addiction and its treatment. Dual diagnosis means addiction plus a mental health concern—depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia. Can people with a dual diagnosis still find help in 12-step meetings? A new study says yes.
The study (published in 2014) focused on 294 young adults finishing treatment. They were assessed at intake and after treatment at intervals of 3, 6 and 12 months, for 12-step attendance, active involvement and percent of days abstinent.
The researchers found that patients had similar levels of 12-step attendance and active involvement, although dually diagnosed patients had a worse record of abstinent days. Researchers believed that all patients can benefit from 12-step participation, whether they had dual diagnosis or just a substance use disorder.
Some of the concerns around dual diagnosis and 12 steps involve two issues. First, the mental diagnosis may mean the social aspect of a meeting can bother certain people—either depressed people or those with certain anxiety disorders like social anxiety.
The second issue is medication and therapy for mental issues. Some people (the study shows ‘a vocal minority’) believe that any medication or psychotherapy is not needed, nothing beyond the 12 steps, to the point of telling depressed people they only need to work the program.
Although there may be valid reasons behind that opinion, most people realize that mental health issues are best treated by professionals, and that treatment may involve both therapy and medications. Some conditions, like schizophrenia, may require lifelong treatment. For others like depression, the need may vary. Some people need medication during severe episodes, while others need it regularly.
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