Research suggests 50 percent or more of patients with psychiatric disorders abuse some type of drugs, including alcohol. Yet there are relatively few treatment programs that address addiction and mental health disorders together, according to John Tsuang, MD, Director of the Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
“A lot of programs will try to treat either the mental health disorder first, or drug addiction first, but you can’t do that successfully—you have to treat both simultaneously,” said Dr. Tsuang. “A mental health clinic may say, ‘You have to sober up first before we can treat you,’ while a drug and alcohol program may say, ‘You need to get help from a psychiatric program first.’”
Dr. Tsuang, who is also a Clinical Professor at the Department of Psychiatry, Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, spoke about patients with a dual diagnosis of addiction and mental disorders at the recent American Psychiatric Association annual meeting.