Dual Diagnosis Programs: Meeting The Needs Of Clients' Challenges

Not everyone in recovery comes in knowing that dual diagnosis programs exist. For some, the road to recovery twists and turns in many directions before finding groups that are open to those who suffer from mental health issues in addition to addiction and alcoholism.

True dual diagnosis programs—at least as we know them today—are actually a rather new phenomenon in recovery. As every group is autonomous in traditional Twelve Step groups, the acceptance of these so-called “outside issues” being discussed in meetings has run across a wide range from “sure, feel free,” to, “don’t bring that stuff here—it has nothing to do with our primary purpose.”

Of course, the latter response is nonsense. Fact is, as alcoholics and addicts, we are by default mentally ill (as the saying goes, though: “some are sicker than others”), so the idea that this is somehow outside the realm of recovery is preposterous. Then again, try finding an alcoholic or addict who is quick to abandon his or her old beliefs.

Find a true dual diagnosis program to address multiple challenges.

It is this very reluctance to get into yet one more debate with people who did not want to hear or understand what challenges others were going through that lead to dual diagnosis programs being offered. Both meetings and drug and alcohol rehab centers saw the need to address and help the people suffering from these additional challenges, and thus far, they have been far more of a boon than a burden to the recovery community.

The thing is, all these other Twelve Step groups branched from the intolerance of other groups. NA branched from AA because alcoholics did not want to hear about drugs in their groups. CA branched off from NA because junkies didn’t want to hear about cocaine use in their meetings. OA branched off from substance abuse because they saw it work, but did not have a drug or alcohol dependence, but found a solution that they believed would help them via the Twelve Steps.

Contempt prior to investigation; it is something that we as alcoholics and addicts rarely are free from. However, if you tell an alcoholic or addict that he or she cannot do something, and you will quickly find that you have someone who is willing to challenge that claim.

That many of these groups remain speaks to the efficacy of the Twelve Steps as a whole, but it also speaks to the need for such offshoot programs. The irony is that these steps are supposed to help us grow in understanding and effectiveness, and the lack thereof drives addicts and alcoholics with not-really-outside-issues to form their own groups where true understanding and effectiveness can be found.

That is not to say that those groups or programs are wrong. Far from it—they help many people find their own recovery, and their effectiveness cannot be debated. It is a good thing that one of the Traditions of the Twelve Steps is that each group is autonomous, otherwise true dual diagnosis programs may not have come into existence, and many addicts and alcoholics would otherwise have been doomed.

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