At one point in time, mental health disorders were treated separately from substance abuse disorders. Individuals struggling with both would have to seek treatment from separate facilities – typically from an inpatient rehab center and then from a psychiatrist or psychologist. Unfortunately, in many cases, the symptoms of one disorder masked the symptoms of the other.

Those suffering from anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder (for example), would receive treatment for their mental conditions, and their struggles with substance abuse would be overlooked or ignored. On the other hand, symptoms of mental health disorders would be attributed to excessive drug or alcohol use. Eventually, untreated addiction would lead to a worsening of psychological symptoms, or the persistence of untreated mental illness would result in eventual relapse.


Therapy for Dual Diagnosis

Nowadays, the relationship between addiction and mental health is clear, and numerous treatment centers offer programs that focus on co-occurring disorders. The US Department of Health and Human Services recently revealed that as many as one out of every five American adults struggles with some degree of mental health disorder. Of those individuals, nearly 7 million concurrently suffer from some form of addiction – either to drugs, alcohol, or both. Without adequate treatment, this subset of the American population is extremely more vulnerable to homeless, poverty, and incarceration. Without the help they need and deserve, those struggling with untreated, co-occurring disorders are also more likely to commit suicide.

Different Approaches to Treatment

When it comes to providing effective care, there are several guidelines that must be adhered to. Of course, because the symptoms of addiction and mental illness vary so greatly on a person-to-person basis, the specifics of treatment will also vary. At the core, however, it is crucial that – first of all – each patient is assessed for potential mental illness very early on in the rehabilitation process. Both the addictive disorder and the psychiatric disorder must be treated individually, and given the same amount of attention.

Finally, both disorders must be treated as chronic, relapsing diseases. In some cases, pharmaceutical intervention may be necessary. This will typically be the case when more severe symptoms of mental illness are involved. Those suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or severe depression or anxiety will almost always need some form of medication in addition to intensive therapeutic care.

Intensive, long-term therapeutic care will always be required when co-occurring disorders are involved. Most dual diagnosis treatment centers provide their patients with a combination of group and individual therapy, and many encourage the continuation of individual therapy long after inpatient treatment ends. Involvement in peer support groups and 12-step programs is also strongly encouraged. We at the Counseling Center believe strongly in the importance of integrated treatment, which includes counseling; counseling that will vary on a case-by-case basis, and last long after inpatient rehab concludes.

Our Counseling Center and Co-Occurring Disorders

We at the Counseling Center for Growth and Recovery believe in a comprehensive, integrated approach to healing. All existing disorders must be dealt with in order for long-term recovery to be possible. We offer several counseling services, including relationship counseling, grief and loss counseling, and a therapeutic approach to addiction recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with a co-occurring disorder, our experienced and dedicated staff is available to help.

For example, being in recovery leads to increased awareness of emotions (which previously were stuffed) and new challenges that need to be managed.  Dealing with underlying issues that keep addictions alive is a necessary condition for effective, long lasting recovery.  This includes honest and open exploration of challenges posed by anxiety, depression, grief and loss, trauma and relationships.

We understand the importance of treating all existing disorders simultaneously. Depending on your personal needs, we will develop a highly individualized plan of therapeutic treatment, designed specifically for you. Over time, as you progress in your recovery, we will re-evaluate your therapeutic needs and make changes accordingly. For more information on our practice, please feel free to get in touch with us today. We look forward to speaking with you soon.