Individuals who have received a dual diagnosis have both substance abuse problems and mental disorders. Until recently many addiction recovery professionals were unsure whether 12 step programs could help those who were dual diagnosed, and there were concerns that the mental disorders would not be properly treated and the right medications would not be determined. A recent research study shows that 12 step programs can offer some benefits for individuals who have a dual diagnosis, and these programs can help with substance abuse treatment and addiction recovery. The study results can be found in the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research Journal in the February 2014 issue. An area of concern is that the 12 step programs are only designed to treat substance abuse, and that some mental disorders may make the individual uncomfortable in the groups.
What the research is showing is that dual diagnosis patients can benefit from 12 step programs, as long as other treatment is also provided for the mental disorder that the individual has been diagnosed with. In spite of reports that AA and other 12 step programs are against any form of medication the study shows that many of the groups have numerous members who believe that medication is acceptable when needed. Another concern before the study results was that 12 step programs may not recognize the mental disorder symptoms, and may assume that the individual is not working through the program as intended. When both substance abuse and mental disorders occur a wide support system is crucial. 12 step programs can be another link to the support that recovering alcoholics and drug abusers need, and they can be beneficial to the recovery process when used properly.