Medical News: Using the IDDT Method to Treat Dual Diagnosis in Addicts

Osmosis Team
Published on Sep 19, 2015. Updated on Invalid date.

At Osmosis we believe in contextualizing what students learn in the classroom with what they need to know to be good clinicians, so periodically we’ll publish informative posts about the practice of medicine. Here’s one related to psychiatry and substance abuse.

Rehabilitation centers are realizing that patients who abuse drugs and alcohol often have co-occurring mental illnesses that contribute to their addiction. Common examples include depression and schizophrenia.

During rehabilitation, it is essential that patients enter a treatment program that addresses both the substance abuse and any co-occurring disorders. Increasingly, rehab centers are using the Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment (IDDT) to treat addicts who have received a dual diagnosis.

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

Psychiatric illnesses that are often diagnosed alongside alcohol or drug abuse include:

  • Depression

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Generalized anxiety disorder

  • Panic disorder

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

  • Phobias

  • Schizophrenia

  • Personality disorders

According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, dual diagnosis is common. In fact, more than one-third of all alcohol abusers and half of all drug addicts suffer from at least one serious mental illness. The same journal shows that just less than 30 percent of patients who are diagnosed with a mental illness abuse alcohol or drugs.

Trying to decide which problem – the substance dependency or the mental illness – came first equates to the “chicken and egg” riddle. An addiction could lead to a mental health problem while someone with a mental illness may use drugs as a form of self-medication, which ultimately leads to addiction. Normally, the addiction is the more apparent problem.

Patients with a dual diagnosis are known to be susceptible to suicide, violence, homelessness, unemployment, arrest, incarceration, hospitalization, relationship difficulties, and infectious and sexually transmitted diseases.

Who Is Prone to Dual Diagnosis?

Men are more likely to develop a dual diagnosis disorder than women, according to Prescott House, a leading dual diagnosis treatment center for men in the United States. In fact, the National Co-morbidity Study found that alcoholic men suffered from depression at a rate three times higher than the general population. As a result, some treatment centers cater specifically to treating men with co-occurring disorders.

The same study indicated that 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder, up to 50 percent of people diagnosed with ADHD, and 25 percent of those with depression also suffer from addiction.

How Does the IDDT Model Work?

Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment is a multipronged approach to rehabilitation that simultaneously addresses the person’s mental illness and addictive behavior. According to the Center for Evidence-Based Practices, IDDT combines pharmacological, psychological, educational, and social interventions to address the needs of patients and their family members.

As part of this approach, treatment may include medication, behavioral therapy and group treatment. Patients are encouraged to identify the origins of their addictions in order to increase the chances of a successful recovery and to prevent relapse. Once the patient enters treatment, he or she will usually go through a detoxification program before addressing the mental health issues.

The IDDT model takes into account changes that occur over time. It is customized to each patient’s needs. Exposure to IDDT reduces the chances of relapse, hospitalization, arrest, incarceration, and the overall cost of rehab.