According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), about 8.9 million Americans live with co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders refer to conditions in which a person has a co-existing addiction and mental health disorder.

The condition is often used synonymously with dual disorder or dual diagnosis. More specifically, dual diagnosis is when two or more conditions occur simultaneously. The underlying affliction that is the root or can (?)  worsen the symptoms of addiction is called a co-occurring disorder.

With co-occurring disorders, mental illness and addiction must be treated together as they are unquestionably linked. Such is the case when a mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder is what led the person to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. It’s also the case when a mental illness like depression or panic disorder is the result of the physical and psychological impacts of drug or alcohol abuse.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatments

In the past, drug or alcohol addiction was treated separately from mental health disorders with care for each delivered at different facilities. As a result, those with co-occurring disorders failed to receive the care they require for underlying afflictions.

Today, psychiatry and addiction treatment strategies are combined as recommended by SAMHSA. The result is an integrated approach that is far more effective and promotes long-term abstinence. Treating addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders at the same time significantly reduces the likelihood of relapse. It also helps those in recovery maintain their sobriety.

Dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorder treatments typically involve behavioral therapy combined with medication. MAT or medication-assisted treatment is a rehabilitative treatment approach that uses FDA-approved medication to reinforce counseling and behavioral therapies. Other treatment strategies include residential treatment programs, outpatient treatment, individual therapy, holistic therapies, and peer support groups.

With integrated treatment, patients heal on all levels and provide them with what they need to rebuild their lives, return to work, and focus on their recovery. A typical integrated treatment plan will include evaluation to ensure the accurate diagnosis of all addiction-related and mental health symptoms. Each patient will have a unique treatment plan based on their symptoms.

Depending on the severity of substance abuse, medical detox may be necessary. Integrated treatments involve a variety of therapies that range from personal, group, and family. One-on-one therapy is crucial to recovery as it gives the patient a safe and confidential space to work with a trained professional. Group and family therapies are just as beneficial as they allow the person in recovery to find support and the opportunity to rebuild damaged relationships.

At Right Way Recovery, we know all about how crucial it is to properly diagnose co-occurring disorders. Undiagnosed co-occurring disorders can make it impossible for people struggling with substance abuse to achieve recovery and maintain their sobriety. We want everyone who needs help with a co-occurring disorder to have access to the screening and treatment resources they need.

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