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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Treating Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

co-occurring disorders
April was an important month regarding alcohol use disorder, treatment, and substance misuse prevention. The month of April was Alcohol Awareness Month, last week was National Addiction Treatment Week, and this past Saturday Americans did their part to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs safely. It should go without saying that the effort to combat stigma and encourage people to seek treatment is a year-round mission; millions of people are still struggling and don’t feel that they can reach out for help without consequence. Even though the events of April have come and gone, this is an equally critical month; in fact, May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Alcohol and substance use disorders are forms of mental illness; and, like any mental health condition, there isn’t a cure for addiction. Fortunately, there are effective, science-based treatments that can help individuals break the cycle of addiction and learn ways to cope in life without resorting to drugs and alcohol. Adopting a program of recovery is not a simple task, it is an enormous commitment; yet, with help, the burden becomes lighter and long-term recovery is possible.

As was pointed out above, addiction is a mental illness; it is worth mentioning that a vast number of people suffering from addiction, also contend with a co-occurring mental health disorder. As a matter of fact, of some 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder in 2014, 50.5% (10.2 million adults) also met the criteria for dual diagnosis. Persons affected by both addiction, as well as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, require treatment that addresses both conditions simultaneously. Treating one illness and not the other, significantly impacts treatment outcomes.

Mental Health: Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

Long-term alcohol and drug use take a severe toll on both mind and body. In many cases, addiction precedes the onset of a condition such as depression; however, in other cases, individuals began using substances in order to cope with the symptoms of their mental illness. Self-medication may help people contend with their symptoms initially but over time the reverse is seen, and addiction often develops. Drug and alcohol use exacerbates the symptoms of mental illness in the long run.

The order, addiction before depression, or vice versa, is important insofar as how clinicians go about treating one individual from the next. What’s most salient though is that both the use disorder and dual diagnosis receive concurrent treatment. In some situations, people struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder learn that they meet the criteria for another mental health condition while in treatment.

Learning that another disease is at play, and may have been all along, can be an illuminating realization. Such discoveries help clients understand some of the reasons for their use and abuse. Knowing why you feel the way you do gives one the ability to take nondestructive steps to cope with their symptoms of depression, anxiety, et al.; in turn, mitigating the risk of acting on cravings and experiencing a relapse. Managing both illnesses together is the best path to lasting recovery.


Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

The Haven at Pismo offers an integrated dual-diagnosis treatment program that addresses clients’ addiction and co-occurring disorder in one recovery program. Mental Health Month is a perfect opportunity to reach out for help and begin the remarkable, life-saving journey of recovery. We provide a continuum of care, including medical detox, gender-specific residential programs, and outpatient programs. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs. 805-202-3440.