Dual Diagnosis and Co-Occurring Illness – Health System Example

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"Dual Diagnosis and Co-Occurring Illness" is an excellent example of a paper on the health system. Dual diagnosis or what at times is referred to as comorbidity relates to a generic term that represents the co-occurrence of disorders that people suffer. The challenge is widespread and particularly among the youth (Rassool,   2010). Like all other members of society, people suffering from mental disorders may engage in the use of alcohol and drugs for the main reasons of enjoyment or reducing the symptoms of their illness and as a result, end up falling to comorbidity.

Recognizing as well as responding to the issue of comorbidity within the health services that deal with mental health, alcohol together with other drug use is variable. The current statistics indicate that the reporting is more related to the personal worker knowledge as opposed to making identification a core part of the service assessment. The reporting of dual disorder portrays low numbers from health services statistics as an indication of under-reporting according to statistics available (Victorian Government Initiative, 2007). The under-reporting is mostly attributed to a variety of factors that include poor identification of comorbidity, narrow service focus relating to either mental challenges or alcohol and drug problems as well as poor methods of data compliance.

Different rules used by different health service providers while recording substance use and disorder may equally serve as the cause of under-reporting. The Australian health services department upon recognition of under-reporting of comorbidity is aiming to expand as well as empowering alcohol together with other drugs as well as mental health sectors to achieve more effective and efficient programs dealing with young people suffering from comorbidity resulting in better outcomes.

The National Action Plan on Mental Health 2006-2011 is essential for that role. Individuals experiencing co-occurring illnesses may mimic or conceal a variety of psychiatric symptoms as a result of the use of drugs together with the symptoms of withdrawal. Consequently, the symptoms of mental health may result from the use of alcohol or drugs (Victorian Government Initiative, 2007). Both disorders comprise of alteration of the mental state an indication that the strategies to manage the challenges needs to be tailored along with an individual who is impaired cognitively while at the same time experiencing little insight regarding nature as well as the severity of the illness they are suffering.

Effective management of comorbidity may prove challenging considering the increased complexity as well as the risk. Self-harm together with aggression, resistance to as well as non-compliance with recovery programs and treatment all stand to complicate effective management of dual diagnosis (Morelland,   2008). In order to support recovery-oriented measures, harm minimization plays an essential role as it provides policies, programs as well as practices aimed at reducing the harms associated with the use of psychoactive drugs among individuals who are either unable or unwilling to stop their behavior (Hunt,   2015).

The main aim of the harm reduction program is preventing the harm caused by the use of the drugs as opposed to preventing the drug itself with the focus solely aimed at individuals who continue to use drugs. The approach of harm minimization encompasses various measures to enhance in preventing or reducing the level of drug consumption especially among patients suffering from comorbidity. The basis of the program among these type of patients is based on the knowledge that, like all other individuals, people suffering from mental disorders also use drugs to derive the same benefits the normal people aims at deriving (Stubbs et al. , 2009).


Hunt, N. (2015, January 21). What is harm reduction? | Harm Reduction International. Retrieved from http://www.ihra.net/what-is-harm-reduction

Morelland, K. (2008, October 3). Australian Psychological Society: Dual diagnosis and dual roles. Retrieved from https://www.psychology.org.au/inpsych/dual_diagnosis/

Rassool, G. H. (2010). Dual diagnosis in nursing. Oxford: Blackwell/Addiction Press.

Stubbs, S., Maher, L., & ONeil, E. (2009). A report on the ‘Keep Your Head Together’ project: a dual diagnosis population health prevention initiative undertaken in Western Sydney, Australia. Mental Health and Substance Use: Dual Diagnosis. DOI:10.1080/17523280902932631

Victorian Government Initiative. (2007, May 7). Retrieved from: http://www.health.vic.gov.au/mentalhealth/dualdiagnosis/dualdiagnosis2007.pdf

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