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The Dual Diagnosis Program at Skyland Trail

February 17, 2014

Eric Chavez MDDual diagnosis is a program of therapy designed to treat people who have more than one psychiatric condition at the same time. At Skyland Trail, we use the term dual diagnosis to mean a mental illness paired with a substance abuse disorder. For example, a client may have major depressive disorder and alcohol dependence, or a client may have schizophrenia and cocaine dependence.  

It is very common for psychiatric disorders and substance abuse disorders to overlap. Studies show that over 60 percent of people who have one of these disorders will also have the other disorder. In the past, clients who had both of these two problems at the same time might go to a psychiatric treatment program to get help with their depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, but they would not get help for their substance abuse problem. Likewise, clients might go to an addiction treatment program to get help with their substance abuse problem, but their depression, anxiety or panic attacks would be ignored. In cases such as this, a client may do well for a certain period of time, but the other disorder would soon reappear. In the dual diagnosis program at Skyland Trail, both problems are addressed simultaneously so that the client can receive the proper treatment they need.

The dual diagnosis program at Skyland Trail is unique in that clients are a part of a larger environment – they get exposed to a broad range of specialized therapies that Skyland Trail offers. We have professionals who are specialists in various forms of psychotherapy and in medication management. For example, I am a specialist in addiction medicine and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). So, a client in the dual diagnosis program would get both of those specialties from me while also receiving his or her therapist’s specialization. For example, a client’s therapist may be specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and therefore the client would receive CBT along with DBT, based on his or her diagnosis and symptoms.

Eric Chavez, MD
Associate Medical Director