Co-occurring disorders happen when people have a drug abuse and a mental disorder at the same time. The two are very interdependent. Studies show that more than 50 percent of people who abuse substances have a mental disorder. Likewise, people with mental health conditions are more prone to substance abuse than those without any mental health issues.
Mental health conditions can range from depression, anxiety to schizophrenia. Addictions may include alcohol, cocaine, tobacco, and even gambling and sex addiction. When addiction and mental illnesses are combined, there is a wide range of issues that must be addressed through co-occurring disorders treatment.
The varying combinations between substance abuse and addictions call for a personalized plan to address co-occurring conditions. Even though millions of people are in need of treatment, according to SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration), most disorders continue to remain untreated or undertreated.
To ensure that co-occurring addiction treatment is thorough, the condition must be addressed from the onset. Dual diagnosis treatment programs must be designed to address your specific needs.
The program must include a thorough assessment of not only mental illness and substance abuse, but also identify underlying causes. Some underlying causes such as sleep patterns, family relationships, and overall environmental factors must be identified to ensure that a holistic approach is applied.
Structure and Focus
Before you join one of the dual diagnosis treatment programs, it is essential to understand the structure and the focus of the program. For example, does it address only mental illness, drug abuse or both at the same time.
Some co-occurring disorders treatment centers may treat one of the conditions and refer patients to other centers that treat the corresponding condition. The problem with this approach is that the interdependence between the two conditions may not be thoroughly analyzed. Therefore, there is the risk of under-treatment.
One of the benefits of inpatient programs is to ensure that the patient is adequately monitored. Some patients may, however, be reluctant to accept that they have a mental condition. The therapists may choose to treat substance abuse first and mental illness later when the patient is more willing to accept a psychiatric evaluation. This underscores the importance of having co-occurring conditions treated through the same program.
The Program’s Environment
Does the center provide equal treatment emphasis to both conditions? For example, some programs may have group sessions for mental illnesses but not for substance abuse. Often these are centers that will refer patients to other programs.
According to the IDDT model developed by Case Western University, patients with mental illnesses should be made to feel welcome. They should be treated with a lot of empathy and understanding. Centers that run these programs should never make patients feel guilty for their mental or substance abuse situations. .
Best Practices and Evidence-Based Approach
It is important to underscore that co-occurring disorders treatment should be based on best practices and an evidence-based approach. Some centers may include Yoga and alternative medicine, amongst other cures. These practices may be effective in managing some conditions and promoting the participants’ overall health. However, is it based on evidence which shows that it can treat specific mental illness, drug abuse or co-occurring conditions?
The staff should be made up of a multi-disciplinary team. All the staff must be trained and understand certain specifics related to co-occurring conditions. Co-occurring treatment should include aftercare where patients are monitored to determine their overall progress after leaving the center. This will help to avert a relapse once the patient goes back to their day-to-day environment.