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Treatments for dual diagnosis

What is dual diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is a term that refers to having both a mental illness and a substance abuse problem. Studies of dual diagnosis investigate the effectiveness and availability of treatments for improving outcomes relating to either diagnosis, such as symptoms, functioning, quality of life, substance use, or cognitive problems.

What is the evidence for the effectiveness of therapy for dual diagnosis?

Moderate quality evidence suggests a medium-sized benefit of motivational interviewing with or without cognitive behavioural therapy for reducing the amount of cannabis used, but no benefit for reducing frequency of cannabis use. There may also be a small benefit for positive, but not negative symptoms. Moderate to low quality evidence suggests a small to medium-sized effect of reduced injection use and reduced stimulant use with contingency management (positive rewards) after 3 months of treatment, but not after 6 months of treatment. Low quality evidence is unclear of the benefits of skills training, group therapy, family therapy, or residential treatments for reducing substance use or improving symptoms.

Also see the Course and Outcomes drug and alcohol use topic, the Risk Factor substance use topic, the Living with Multiple Conditions drug and alcohol use topic, and the Pharmaceutical Treatments for dual diagnosis topic.

March 2016

Page last updated: 23:49  6 September 2017

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