Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Care

First Advisor

Betty LeMasters

Second Advisor

Jocelyn Ladner

Third Advisor

Burdena Willis


This project will focus on the study of mental illness and chemical abuse/dependence as it has progressed into the entity of dual diagnosis or what experts consider co-existing or co-occurring disorders.

Research has revealed the increase in the number of individuals suffering from co-occurring illnesses since the early 1980's. Because this condition has become the norm rather than the exception, it becomes necessary to focus more clearly on individuals that are diagnosed with this illness and on the most effective treatment in order to assist the individual in recovery.

Individuals have had co-existing or co-occurring disorders prior to the early 1980's. Beth Israel Hospital developed and began a distinct DD unit in 1979. However, the focus on this population garnered support in the 1980's and continued to grow. Some clinicians believe this population is one of the most difficult to treat and have sought ways to develop appropriate treatment.

The purpose of the present study is to examine the operations of an acute dual diagnosis unit in an effort to determine the strategies necessary to enhance its operations resulting in improved treatment for the DD population. Specifically, it will review the treatment practices and special needs of the DD patient.

The study of the acute dual diagnosis unit was reviewed in comparison to the latest research findings of the best practices for treatment of the dual diagnosis patient. There is no single way to develop a dual diagnosis unit; however, there are principles in place to guide program developers toward appropriate treatment.

Results of this study suggest that the DD unit needs to have a conceptual framework to build on, principles to guide treatment and staff educated in the knowledge of addictions.