Dual Diagnosis: A Holistic Approach into Addiction and Mental Health by Dr. Tonmoy Sharma

            In an interview with Desert Living Show, Dr. Tonmoy Sharma—Sovereign Health’s founder and CEO—emphasized the importance of having in-depth diagnoses and treatments when talking about substance abuse and other mental health issues. The lack of personalized treatment when it comes to addiction and simply dumping the patients into a pile of group therapies or interventions only provide a band-aid solution to the deep-seated mental health issues the patient has.

            According to Dr. Sharma, one of the things that occur during the onset of addiction/substance abuse, which is often ignored, is the diminishing of the brain’s cognitive function and yet, nobody assesses that. Are addiction treatments supposed to be one-size-fits-all?

            “Why treat addiction any differently than you treat diabetes, or you treat heart disease,” Dr. Sharma stated in his interview when asked about his treatment approach. In addition, substance abuse is not always thoroughly assessed like other physiological illnesses.

            For the CEO, addiction treatment should be the mainstay of modern medicine. It unravels a patient’s pre-existing condition, if there is, which is usually found deep beneath the surface of substance abuse. Addiction, as typical as it seems because of its frequency, should not only be taken by its face value.

            On top of that, as Dr. Sharma stated, addiction must be assumed as a chronic disease the same way diseases that can be observed and investigated with the naked eye were being assumed. The coexistence of addiction with mental health illnesses all lies in the brain of an individual and to address the root cause of addiction, treatment centers must further assess the brain of the patient.

            Dr. Sharma’s treatment approach is far more holistic than the typical treatments administered by other treatment providers in the United States that are only licensed to treat addiction. Sovereign Health aims to comprehensively assess and investigate the underlying mental health condition that a patient might have which can be often overlooked due to the lack of competence in dual diagnosis (e.g., people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—ADHD—who developed addiction).

            At Sovereign Health, the process of addiction treatment begins with the identification of what is going wrong with the patient because often, addiction is just a secondary effect of an underlying mental illness. If left unchecked and undiagnosed, it could get in the way of addiction treatment and hinder them from wholly getting treated. Relapses may still take place if the history or any trauma a patient has gone through is not addressed properly.

            The aforementioned approach is cited from the findings of studies published by Columbia University. It suggests that competence in treating mental illness and mental health is necessary for facilities to personalize addiction treatments and when curing by dual diagnosis. Expertise in addiction treatment is simply not enough. At Sovereign, patients with addictions have higher probabilities to recover as it has the ability to treat both mental health and addiction.

            Being a trained psychiatrist, Dr. Sharma values the importance of mental health to a great extent. Not only does he look for superficial evidence of addiction, but he also applies measurement-based care (MBC) which is the thorough collection of patient’s data, systematic evaluation of symptoms, and is guided by medicine. With this, he can create a more specific treatment for a patient.

About Tonmoy Sharma

Tonmoy Sharma, M.B.B.S., M.Sc., founder, and CEO of Sovereign Health, has spent years crisscrossing the country presenting on measurement-based care at conferences and community events. His hope is that in the not-too-distant future, clinicians and the public nationwide will embrace MBC as the highly successful, evidence-based treatment that is the best approach to treating addiction and mental health issues. Dr. Sharma has been recognized with numerous awards, honors, and grants for his work in advancing mental health and its treatment in the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia. He is a prolific researcher and scientist as well as the author or co-author of more than 200 peer-reviewed articles and five books on schizophrenia and mental illness. Dr. Sharma has served on numerous editorial boards, acted as peer reviewer for 14 international medical journals, and has been on various advisory boards governing the development of antipsychotics. He co-hosted Talk Radio 790 AM KABC Los Angeles’s “In Your Right Mind,” a cutting-edge, weekly radio show that covers various topics in behavioral health.

About Sovereign Health

The Sovereign Health Group’s mission has been to provide a broad spectrum of high-quality behavioral health treatment services for adults and adolescents, including support services for family members. One factor that differentiates Sovereign from other treatment providers has been the company’s ability to offer separate mental health and addiction or dual diagnosis treatment programs at its facilities. For more information, visit www.sovhealth.com.

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