Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

Addiction is already a difficult disease for an individual, but it can be extremely more problematic when suffering from another mental illness. Called comorbidity and Dual Diagnosis issues, the case of co-occurring disorders (COD) is prevalent among substance abusers and addicts.

Studies by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) show that there is a high instance of addiction paired with mental illness; an estimated 50 to 75 percent Americans dealing with substance abuse issues also have a co-occurring disorder.

Why Is It So Hard to Treat Co-Occurring Disorders?

One in four adults with a mental illness are also reported to have a substance abuse disorder.The National Institute on Drug Abuse cautions that those seeking treatment for an addiction and mental illness explore the right kind of care for the problem at hand. Diagnosis for mental illness and addiction can be a mystery unto itself. Often the effects of drugs or alcohol on the body and brain can mimic or appear as symptoms of mental illness.

The same is true in reverse. It’s a sort of symbiotic relationship between the two because one can often proliferate and facilitate the other. Some with mental illness self-medicate with illicit drugs to ease the symptoms of the disease, while others with addiction may, as a result of continued drug use, develop mental illness.


How Should Dual Diagnosis Issues Be Treated?

In order to most properly diagnose an individual with a mental illness, the person must be observed after detoxification has already taken effect. This way, clinicians can better understand the behaviors of the addict while sober. A solid diagnosis may not always be possible, but this is extremely helpful in targeting the issue.

It’s important to note that those suffering from a co-occurring disorder can often be violent and resistant toward treatment, exhibiting severe or dangerous behaviors. For this reason, it’s imperative to have a professional staff member work with the individual and establish a trusting relationship. In a report from (CSAT) it’s noted that individuals with COD tend to respond better to clinicians who appear nurturing and objective.

A dually diagnosed person should feel comfortable to proceed at his or her own pace, and those working with the individual must hold realistic expectations that correspond to the stage of recovery.

The best course of action is have a team of expert and caring professionals who understand the illness of addiction and the mood, personality, or anxiety disorder that affects the individual. Recognizing both the effects of addiction and mental illness can help in developing a plan for treatment that is both long-term and non-threatening to the person.

What Type of Treatment Should You Choose?

There are a variety of treatment options that deal with addiction that have proven to be very effective in establishing lifelong abstinence. An example of this might be a 12-step program. Studies have found that an integrated approach to treatment works best. An integrated recovery plan involves looking at different types of treatment and combining them in such a way that it supports the individual in all areas.

drawing of different types of psychotherapyCognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is thought to be the most effective at sustaining long-lasting changes. This “cornerstone” of successful treatment integrates behavioral, cognitive social, developmental, and motivational therapies and aims to help Dual Diagnosis patients to cope with and understand their addiction and illness. The individual is looked at as an active participant in the recovery process, whereas the clinician is likened to an educator that provides them with much needed management skills.

Again, treating a person with co-occurring disorders must be handled with care and professional help. Here at The Oaks at La Paloma, we concentrate on assisting individuals with mental illness and addiction. We have a team of experts who can help get you or your loved one the care necessary for recovery. Call us today at 901-350-4575.