How Does the 12-Step Model Support Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Approaching dual diagnosis treatment takes a lot of care and concern for multiple parts of a person’s journey in recovery. Holding a person’s story who has experienced trauma, abuse, neglect, pain, loss, and many other things can be difficult because these may all be factors in their addiction journey. The 12-Step process is designed to support people who are struggling with addiction to face the challenges with hope and support from their community. Those who also navigate mental health issues can often find the same support in a community that works with the 12 steps and offers help for addiction. 

Twelve Steps

The 12-Step model of Alcoholics Anonymous is a program that provides a structured way to move through recovery in community with others. Those who want to attain and maintain sobriety often find peace in joining forces with others who have been there are further down the path and those in the early stages of navigating addiction. When the 12-Step model emerged in the early 1930s, there was no viable alternative treatment option for people with addiction. People are expected to follow through on the steps and walk through them as they can, but following this has helped millions of people find peace and harmony in their recovery journey. Even if they relapse, there are people who understand and can support their journey. With the normalization of dual diagnosis treatment options, there has been an increase in the number of spaces that are providing support in a 12-Step pathway for those with dual diagnosis as part of their journey. Some of the following are ways people can incorporate 12 steps into their mental health journey with dual diagnosis:

  • Choosing to turn personal will and lives over to God
  • Take a moral inventory
  • Admit the nature of personal wrongs

Co-Occurring Disorders and Management

Incorporating the 12 steps into dual diagnosis treatment can be critically important for people who need complex treatment and support. Dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders are often complex to treat because it is hard to know which came first. Dual diagnosis focuses on a range of mental health disorders, primarily anxieties, bipolar, and depressive disorders. There are myriad other ways in which mental health concerns show up in a person’s journey of addiction. The abuse of drugs and alcohol can make their mental health issues worse, often cause irreparable damage to themselves, their families, career, and other aspects of their lives.

Help for Families

Families of loved ones with addiction and mental health issues are often caught in the crosshairs. There is a lot to consider when thinking about how to help someone who is struggling, but denial can often be a strong factor in not seeking treatment.  Perhaps they have relapsed or feel they failed at treatment and don’t want to return. They may not want to face treatment and therapy for the underlying issues causing addiction and mental health concerns to linger. Whatever it may be, a person may finally realize with the help of loved ones that there is hope beyond diagnosis if they reach out for help. This might mean an intervention with a professional, it might be connecting with loved ones who understand what they need, or simply telling their loved one they want to help and letting them decide when the time is right. There is treatment and ope available for those who seek support. 

Treatment Options

The 12-Step model can be effective for people with mild addiction who have not received a dual diagnosis. They can work the program with addiction as the focus and treat the mental health issue alongside it once they detox from substances. The 12-Step program is a great entryway for people to navigate the journey, but it is a more complex and complicated process to journey through 12 steps while undergoing mental health issues. Dual diagnosis recovery groups can often provide the best support but are not always readily accessible. The Substance  Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) previous determined that treatment which is integrated is most effective for dual diagnosis. People who suffer from this should enroll in an inpatient program that provides treatment integrated into their approach with addiction. The aftercare piece needs to be taken into account, as well, so they find full support from detox to rehab and beyond for reaching their goals in recovery. 

In other words, a complex dual diagnosis should receive the best customized, individual treatment for addiction and mental health in one place. Trained therapists should offer support and connect them with the process that works best for them and their treatment plan. With the right treatment team, they will ultimately find great success and find more hope for the journey ahead. It might take time to find the right place and team, but when they do, there will be great opportunities ahead to thrive in spite of the challenges because of the support a good 12-Step program and rehab facility can provide.

Burning Tree Main provides excellent therapeutic services for people with dual diagnoses. 855-722-613. Our goal is to help you and a loved one find support for the journey of recovery. We believe you and your loved one can find hope in the midst of addiction. If you are struggling, call us and we will help you find healing: 866-287-2877.


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