There are nearly nine million people in the U.S. who have both a substance use problem and a mental or emotional disorder. Such individuals are often said to have a double or dual diagnosis.
For example, an individual may engage in excessive alcohol use and be depressed. Commonly made dual diagnoses include psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, panic disorder, manic episodes, obsessive compulsive disorders, certain phobias, antisocial personality disorders, depression and bipolar disorders.
Unfortunately, the concept of dual diagnosis is misleading because it implies that having a drinking or drug problem is a disease. However, the disease theory of alcoholism and addiction has been discredited by medical and other scientific evidence. Simply put, neither alcoholism nor addiction is a disease.
Mental or emotional problems are often used as excuses for heavy substance use, but they don't cause such abuse. The same is true of external situations and pressures such as a failed marriage, a lost job, bankruptcy, the death of a loved one, or stress at work. Any of these things can be a convenient excuse, but none of them are causes substance misuse.
People who have developed tolerance for alcohol or drugs (that is, they require more and more of the substance to achieve the same effects) may need to detoxify, but that is not a disease. If the substance use problem requires detox, medically supervised IV therapy is considered the best method. It is administered under the care of a physician and it allows the medication protocol to be modified as needed to meet the changing withdrawal symptoms as they occur.
Once the detox is complete, individuals typically seek rehab. Unfortunately, most rehab programs include 12 step recovery. Twelve step programs promote the demonstrably incorrect ideas that substance use is a disease, that there is no cure for addiction, that a person will always be an addict, that they can never use substances in moderation, that they will always need help for the rest of their lives, and that they are always in danger of remission.
Research by the United States government and scientists around the world has demonstrated that use of a 12 step program is usually ineffective for most people and can actually be harmful and counterproductive.
An alternative to 12 step programs is available at the Freedom Model Retreats. The Freedom Model Program uses Cognitive Behavioral Learning to teach its guests that they have the power to overcome their substance use themselves. They learn how to use self-assessment to reevaluate their decisions, to make choices that are more productive, and to develop habits and behaviors that are positive and help them build a future that is permanently free from substance use.
Independent research demonstrates that the long-term success of the non-profit, non-religious Freedom Model Program is at least 62%. That compares to a short term success rate of 12 step programs of only about 5%.