Psychopharmacology of Mental Illness and Dual Diagnoses – Causes and Treatments

(3 Credit Hours – Cost: $1,350)


Prerequisites: Minimum 12 credit hours of graduate level courses in addictions studies or psychology.

Course Description: This graduate-level course examines:

  • The prevalence of coexisting substance misuse/abuse and psychiatric disorder (dual diagnosis, co-morbidity)
  • How dual diagnosis has increased over the past decade, and why it will continue to rise;
  • Recent developments in the pharmacological treatment of alcohol, opiate and nicotine misuse/abuse.
  • The evidence on the use of some of these treatments in dual diagnosis (with psychotic, mood and anxiety disorders).
  • Evidence based information and its limitations by the exclusion of mental illness when pharmacological agents for substance misuse/abuse are evaluated and vice versa.
  • Examines the set available information within the context of the psychosocial management of co-morbid substance misuse/abuse and mental illness, within the framework for service delivery recommended by USA national policy.


Course Outcome: After completing this course, candidates are expected to be able to:

  1. Understand the goals and components of substance abuse treatment with patients with a coexisting mental illness.
  2. Understand critical treatment issues and general assessment issues in providing care to patients with dual disorders.
  3. Understand the disorders that account for the majority of psychiatric problems seen in patients with dual disorders, including:
    Mood Disorders;
    Anxiety Disorders;
    Personality Disorders; and
    Psychotic Disorders.
  4. Become familiar with the types of medications used in psychiatry and addiction medicine and for patients with dual disorders.
  5. Recognize interactions between co-existing mental health, substance use, and other health care issues.
  6. Utilize relevant screening and assessment instruments.
  7. Engage the individual and support system in a comprehensive treatment planning process as well as use collaboratively identify and prioritize treatment needs with the individual and support system.
  8. Access, coordinate, and facilitate appropriate referrals which maximize treatment and recovery opportunities in partnership with the person served. Monitor, evaluate, and advocate within the service delivery system to ensure client access to necessary services. Assist the client in navigating the service delivery system effectively communicating their recovery needs.
  9. Educate the person and the support system about available self-help and peer groups in the recovery process. Educate the person and support system about self-advocacy and empowerment. Educate society about the relationship between mental health and substance use.
  10. Follow appropriate policies and procedures by adhering to laws and regulations regarding substance use and mental health treatment as they relate to integrated care.


Required Text*:

Integrated Treatment for Dual Disorders: a guide to effective practice by Kim T. Mueser… [et al]. ISBN1-57230-850-8, 2003 Edition. The Guilford Press Publisher.

*Candidates are responsible to buy the required textbook for this course. You can find this book in major online bookstores such as, etc.

Supplementary Resources**:

Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders by Sharon C. Elsberry
ISBN: 978-0-7890-3693-3, 2008 Edition. Routledge Publisher.
Video (audiovisuals): Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders by Kenneth Minkoff MD, 2000 Edition. The Mental Illness Education Project Inc. Publisher

**These resources are not required, but may provide assistance in completing your assignments for this course.