The actual definition of dual diagnosis is the co-existence of a mental health disorder and drug addiction or alcoholism. The most effective dual diagnosis treatment generally will take place within a drug rehab or addiction treatment program with a strong psychiatric component.
The mental health disorder and drug addiction / alcoholism should be treated simultaneously, while realizing the process of recovery is gradual.
Different Definition for Dual Diagnosis
The type of dual diagnosis I want to bring to light is that of the coexistence of an eating disorder and drug addiction or alcoholism. Patients like this are admitted to drug rehab and addiction treatment each and everyday. Unfortunately, drug rehab programs and alcohol rehab programs are not always equipped to treat the eating disorder and in many cases, do not even diagnose it correctly.
Relapse and Dual Diagnosis
In most cases, distorted thoughts regarding food and weight took place before the onset of the drug addiction or alcoholism. To not treat the eating disorder, along with the drug addiction and alcoholism, can only lead to relapse for the patient. It is no different than dealing with a mental health disorder and drug addiction, when one component ends in relapse the other is not far behind. The same holds true with an eating disorder and drug addiction. If one of the disorders are in relapse, it will not be long before both will be. Relapse of any kind creates shame, humiliation and a feeling of failure. If one continues in relapse from their eating disorder, it will not be long before they turn to their drug addiction or alcohol addiction to try and cope with their feelings of despair.