November 15, 2005

Dual Diagnosis Recovery Program

According to national statistics, at least 50% of people with a severe disease of the brain also struggle with substance abuse problems. However, most treatment programs deal with either the disease or the substance abuse, not both, and for most dually-diagnosed people, this traditional approach is ineffective. Individuals who are dually-diagnosed have much higher rates of relapse, hospitalization, incarceration, violence, homelessness, and serious infections (e.g. HIV), than individuals with only brain diseases. That is why, in June 2001, Alameda County Behavioral Healthcare Services teamed up with Telecare Corporation to start the CHANGES Dual Recovery Program. The program is designed for individuals who have a history of difficulty complying with traditional mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. CHANGES is a client centered and integrated approach to treatment. Through outreach, services, and self-help they focus on “recovery of life roles, not merely recovery from disease” (Scott Madover, program administrator). Unlike traditional treatment, CHANGES de-emphasizes the two diagnoses and provides a holistic approach to treatment.

A recent Telecare evaluation of the program found that “psychiatric hospitalizations of the program's first 142 enrolled clients decreased by 40 percent, psychiatric emergency room contacts decreased 35 percent, and admissions to IMD's (Institutions for Mental Disease) decreased 34 percent”. The program also saved Alameda county and average of $900,000 per year by decreasing jail costs as well as use of already overburdened acute and emergency psychiatric services. The study also found that 57% fewer patients were living in homeless shelters and 30% more were living independently. Schizophrenia was the most common brain disease of those in the study, while alcohol and cocaine were the drugs of choice. Marye Thomas, director of Alameda County's Behavioral Health Care Services, said about CHANGES "The old approach was fragmented and costly. In this era of limited resources we must focus on behavioral health care programs that improve quality of life, while at the same time reducing costs by avoiding hospitalization, emergency rooms, or incarceration."

Telecare. “Innovative Support of Persons With Mental Illness and Substance Addiction Yields Improved Lives and SavingsSource: Press/Marketing release from Telecare, Inc.. Oct. 26, 2005.

More information: Special Report: Schizophrenia and Drug/Alcohol Addiction


My 33 year old brother is suffering from schizophrenia. Does the Alameda Behavioral center offer any treatment programs for Schizophrenia? Any advice, refferals or suggestions are welcome, Thank you.


Posted by: Michele at November 19, 2005 03:42 PM

My 23 year old brother has been suffering with schizophrenia. We are having a hard time as a family trying to cope with this. How can we help him cope and live with this. We do not have the money to get him psychiatric help so he can realize what has happen to him. we need help coping with this as well. Any suggestions are welcomed.

Thanks ypu in advance

Posted by: Keisha at December 9, 2005 07:29 PM

Here is the URL to the Alameda Behavioral center:
Their phone number is listed on the brochure under "Therapeutic Behavioral Services". You could also try NAMI (National Alliance for Mentally Ill):
I think most counties have a branch and they can help you find services or support groups in your area, this goes for both of you. Your county should have some sort of government-funded programs, depending on the severity of your brothers' symptoms. If you haven't already, you could also check out the plethora of information and links to other resources on Besides writing for this site, I also work at a center for people with severe schizophrenia and other brain diseases, so I know how hard it can be to deal with the symptoms. But, know that family support really does make a huge difference. Though their behavior might sometimes seem bizarre, try to be as accepting as possible. Hope this helps. If you have more questions, feel free to post another comment.

Posted by: Megan at December 13, 2005 09:19 PM

I can not find a psychiatric to help me I have all but 4 symptoms of schizophrenia. Can you help me? Alabama

Posted by: Emily at February 15, 2006 08:43 PM

You make a short but powerful argument for the need for dual recovery programs (such as the Changes Dual Recovery Program in Alameda county). Not only this, but you provided evidence for the effectiveness and economic feasibility of such programs. I’m sure that the people considered as “success stores” from the “Changes” program and the people from Alameda county thank you.

Posted by: Alcohol Testing Info at December 15, 2006 10:20 PM

As you pointed out in your post, at least half of the people with various forms of mental illness are also involved with substance abuse. What is critical about this is that traditional treatment programs usually focus on either the substance abuse problem OR the mental disease issue, thus making most treatment programs ineffective for dual-diagnosed individuals. What is also highly problematic is the fact that dual-diagnosed people also have higher rates of homelessness, acute infections (such as HIV), hospitalization, violence, incarceration, and relapse than people who are “single-diagnosed.” The obvious point is that if dual-diagnosis people are to receive treatment that is effective as well as economically feasible, then more dual recovery programs need to be implemented.

Posted by: Anti Alcoholism at December 15, 2006 10:56 PM

I work for Beginning New in Detroit Michigan. We house, do case management and ongoing substance abuse treatment. We are grossly underfunded and looking for new ways to help this population. It is dificult at best. We have helped some to live successful lives and have stabilized many, keeping hospital admissions way down and providing a quality of life. At this time we are in real need to meet rising costs for funding and housing upgrades. Can you supply any avenues so we may continue to provide service and keep quality as our top priority. This facility is run by a group of volunteers and supported by people like you. All your input is so welcome. Thank you.

Posted by: John Marantic at December 19, 2006 06:01 PM

I am seeking help for my daughter. She has been dual diagnosed and we are having alot of trouble locating help for her. Is there any government funding provided? And how do I go about locating it?

Posted by: dawn kondos at February 5, 2008 08:23 PM

Our Center has many free resources for Dual Diagnosis training & staff development.

Posted by: Frederick DuFour at March 11, 2008 12:19 PM

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