Drink and Drugs News December 2016 - Page 14

Dual Diagnosis THE POWER OF THE POSITIVE Can positive psychology help to treat dual diagnosis? Katalin Ujhelyi, Jerome Carson and Ioanna Melidou share results of a new study P eople with dual diagnosis – co-occurring substance misuse and mental health issues – have complex needs. The duality of their disorders gives augmented symptoms, leaving clients particularly vulnerable and with poorer treatment outcomes. They require the most support, but in fact receive the least, according to Turning Point’s recent Dual dilemma report. The unmet need of those with coexisting problems was the reason for developing a new treatment programme, within the scope of a PhD research project conducted at the University of Bolton, in collaboration with Lifeline Project. The project involved a group of participants with dual diagnosis issues who attended the Bolton Integrated Drugs and Alcohol Service (BIDAS). Traditionally, psychology has been preoccupied with what is wrong with us and concentrated on trying to repair it. Positive psychology, on the other hand, is the science of positive aspects of human life and looks for what is right with people. It explores positive experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). The field is not intended to replace traditional approaches, but to draw on the findings and methodologies of psychology in general and make it more representative of the human experience (Seligman et al, 2005). According to Seligman’s PERMA Model of positive psychology, wellbeing or flourishing stands on five pillars: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment (Seligman, 2011; http://bit.ly/2gD2Vwl). P E R M A Positive emotions feeling good Engagement finding flow Relationships authentic connections Meaning purposeful existence Achievement sense of accomplishment Figure 1: Seligman’s PERMA Model of Flourishing. 14 | drinkanddrugsnews | December 2016 Positive psychology has been successfully applied in addiction recovery, as well as in the treatment of mental illnesses. However, there is a lack of research relating to dual diagnosis. Applied to addiction, it can be seen in three areas associated with ‘the pleasant life’ (positive emotions about the past, present, and future); ‘the engaged life’ (having positive traits that are necessary for full engagement, such as hope); and ‘the meaningful life’ (service to, and membership of, positive entities such as family, workplace, Alcoholics Anonymous). Positive interventions aim to increase positive feelings, behaviours, and cognitions rather than working on pathology and maladaptive thoughts and behaviours (Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009). According to positive psychology, a lack of mental illness does not automatically mean you have a happy life. While the aim of traditional psychology is to treat mental illness, positive psychology gives a hand to this traditional approach but in addition helps people move beyond survival to achieve their full potential and flourish. The new programme – developed by the University of Bolton and Lifeline Project, within the scope of a PhD research project – is providing dual diagnosis clients with an opportunity to increase their wellbeing. It