chapter  9
21 Pages

Mutual-Help Groups for People With Co-Occurring Disorders

ByJoan E. Zweben, Sarah Ashbrook

Individuals with co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders (CODs) often find themselves without a “home” within mutual-help groups in which they can share their specific experiences and concerns. The 12-step system is well developed for handling a wide range of substances and addictive behaviors, but those with comorbid mental health issues are generally discouraged from sharing this specific aspect of their challenges in mutualhelp meetings as mental illness is often thought of as an “outside” issue. Over time, it is increasingly recognized that CODs are the norm, not the exception, and are best addressed in an integrated fashion in professional treatment settings. The incorporation of CODs as a topic in mutual-aid groups is limited as

the mutual-help system changes without the incentives of funding or other public policy interventions accelerating the process. Nonetheless, there has been an evolution toward acknowledging that people with addiction issues often have other mental health problems, and open discussion is increasing within mutual-help group meetings with names like the Sober 5150s in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Double Trouble in Narcotics Anonymous (NA).