Well, this doesn't bode well for secular alternatives, but it's worth a call anyway:
How often do people with severe mental illnesses also experience a co-occurring substance abuse problem?
There is a lack of information on the numbers of people with co-occurring disorders, but research has shown the disorders are very common. According to reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA):
• Roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse.
• Thirty-seven percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness.
• Of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29 percent abuse either alcohol or drugs.
The best data available on the prevalence of co-occurring disorders are derived from two major surveys: the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Survey (administered 1980-1984), and the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), administered between 1990 and 1992.
The ECA Survey found that individuals with severe mental disorders were at significant risk for developing a substance use disorder during their lifetime. Specifically:
• 47 percent of individuals with schizophrenia also had a substance abuse disorder (more than four times as likely as the general population).
• 61 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder also had a substance abuse disorder (more than five times as likely as the general population).
Consumers with co-occurring disorders are also much more likely to be homeless or jailed. An estimated 50 percent of homeless adults with serious mental illnesses have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder.
[b:39e4c66a2f]Consequences for society directly stem from the above.[/b:39e4c66a2f]
There is much evidence that integrated treatment can be effective. For example:
• Individuals with a substance abuse disorder are more likely to receive treatment if they have a co-occurring mental disorder.
• Research shows that when consumers with dual diagnosis successfully overcome alcohol abuse, their response to treatment improves remarkably.
Integrated treatment also requires the recognition that substance abuse counseling and traditional mental health counseling are different approaches that must be reconciled to treat co-occurring disorders.
Providers should recognize that denial is an inherent part of the problem. Patients often do not have insight as to the seriousness and scope of the problem. Abstinence may be a goal of the program but should not be a precondition for entering treatment. If dually diagnosed clients do not fit into local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) groups, special peer groups based on AA principles might be developed.
This does not look good.
There is no implication whatsoever that any form of recovery other than a faith-based one even exists.
An illness model of the problem should be used rather than a moralistic one.
But the 12 steps are by their very nature moralistic.
How can you have a program of recovery that stresses the need for confession and amends without venturing into the area of morality?
How can you possibly offer an alternative based on AA principles without being moralistic?
Can they possibly actually [b:39e4c66a2f]believe[/b:39e4c66a2f] that it is possible to use AA principles [b:39e4c66a2f]without[/b:39e4c66a2f] using the steps?
Many people I speak to do not realize that to recover in AA means working the steps. There seems to be a prevalent lack of knowledge among the general public about the basic principles of AA.
I wouldn't expect that from an agency that claims to be a liaison between the public and the mental health community, though.
Consequences for society directly stem from the above.
In light of this, I would think that the public would be interested in becoming more aware of what is actually being done, (or not), to alleviate the problem.
My feeling is that "the public" is easily pacified by a show of effort, as to truly address the problem of non-morality-based recovery on any meaningful level would require effort and more of the taxpayer's dollar, not to mention taking the collective public head out of the sand.