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How dual diagnosis is treated in other parts of the world

05-20-16 Category: Dual diagnosis treatment, Treatment

How dual diagnosis is treated in other parts of the world

Dual diagnosis is not peculiar to America. Data collected from the Netherlands in 2007 found an 84 percent rate of dual diagnosis among opioid users receiving methadone treatment. A 2009 study of psychiatric patients in a South African hospital revealed over half had a substance abuse problem. This article explores how other countries treat individuals with dual diagnosis.

Dual diagnosis treatment in Ireland

A 2002 survey of mental health and substance abuse service providers in Ireland found the majority adhere to three models of treatment: serial, parallel and integrated. Three-quarters of the survey respondents stated the integrated model (where one service provider oversees all aspects of treatment) yields the best result. Despite this belief, most respondents employed the parallel model (mental health and substance abuse services providers treat the patient simultaneously). Over 70 percent of respondents noted they did not follow a defined treatment model for dual diagnosis.

Dual diagnosis treatment in Canada

Like Ireland, Canada advocates integrated treatment for concurrent disorders. It also stresses the need for early detection, early intervention (particularly in adolescents) and raising awareness. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse examined the effect of substance abuse on specific mental health conditions. These included psychosis, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and impulse-control disorders. Not unlike Ireland, Canadian health officials concede a practical infrastructure is still wanting to coordinate integrated treatment among health agencies. The authors of the organization’s report recommend this integration must be vigorously pursued and promoted.

Dual diagnosis treatment in South Africa

A report published by 21st Century Global Mental Health notes South Africa does not have a post-apartheid national mental health policy. The country’s nine provinces are responsible for treatment within their provincial boundaries. The report authors note many people with a mental health or substance abuse problem (or both) rely on indigenous healers for treatment. Some of these treatments have a medical foundation, while others rely solely on the patient’s belief in their efficacy.

A number of these traditional healers believe mental illness and substance abuse are the result of a disconnection between the patient and his or her environment. Because mental illness and substance abuse are considered the maledictions of angry ancestors, healers are inclined to treat those illnesses typically attributed to a disgruntled forebear. These include mood and anxiety disorders.

The report authors note individuals with mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring conditions benefit most from residential treatment. The problem is the lack of affordable treatment centers for individuals. Another problem is the country’s penchant for locking up drug offenders. According to World Prison Brief, South African prisons are operating at 132 percent occupancy level. Amid human rights abuse reports from the United Nations to the forced removal of over 4,000 prisoners because of inhumane conditions, South African prisons offer no hope for an individual with mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring conditions.

Dual diagnosis treatment in developing countries

Over 75 percent of individuals who live in developing countries and who have a mental health issue receive no treatment. The World Health Organization notes in the majority of countries, less than 2 percent of health funds are spent on mental health treatment. It is hardly a blind leap to assume most individuals with dual diagnosis receive no treatment either.

Sovereign Health Group’s dual diagnosis treatment program interrupts the cycle of mental health crises and self-medicating. We treat the underlying conditions for both disorders. We believe in integrated, not sequential, treatment. Contact our helpline for more information about dual diagnosis and other treatment programs.

About the author:

Darren Fraser is a content writer for Sovereign Health Group. He worked two and half years as reporter and researcher for The Yomiuri Shimbun until they realized he did not read, speak or write Japanese and fired him. Undeterred, he channels his love of research into unearthing stories that provide hope to those dealing with addiction and mental illness. Darren loves the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and horror films and would prefer to enjoy these from the comforts of his family’s farm in Quebec. For more information about this media, contact the author at

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