Addiction Treatment with Co-Occurring Mental Disorders

A co-occurring disorder in an addiction treatment context is comprised of a substance use disorder and at least one mental disorder. Mental disorders are, more often than not, the underlying cause for substance use disorders. Approximately 7.9-million adults in the U.S. where suffering with co-occurring disorders in 2014, according to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Fortunately, there are supports in place that provide integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders to stop the vicious cycle,

About half of all people who experience a mental illness will also experience a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.1Co-occurring disorders (sometimes referred to as “dual diagnosis”) are a fairly new concept in the treatment of addiction. Previously, mental health disorders were treated exclusively in psychiatric environments and substance use disorders were treated at drug rehabilitation centers.The problem with this segmented approach to treatment is that the client receives treatment for their drug addiction in rehab, but omitting psychiatric care, neglects the underlying cause of their addiction. Not addressing the underlying causes of a substance use disorder in treatment can lead to relapse once treatment is complete.

Self-Medication and Comorbidity

Many people who struggle with the debilitating symptoms of a psychological disorder use substances to alleviate the pain of depression, anxiety, mania, and alienation. They often self-medicate, and “try to wash the ghosts from their heads” (Preston W. Long) with alcohol and drugs because their own reality is simply too painful and overwhelming. But what happens when the drugs are gone? The debilitating symptoms, the overwhelming reality, still remain and require clinical treatment.

Today, many primary residential drug rehab centers provide psychiatric therapy in-house for addicts who also present with a co-occurring disorder. The most common mental disorders presented at drug rehab are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Inpatient drug rehab treatment centers often utilize clinical psychiatric therapies to treat both the addiction and the mental disorder concurrently. Common modalities used in the recovery field center upon cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapies to help the addict first identify the causes, triggers, and effects of their mental health issues, and second, how these issues relate to their substance use.

Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders and a Daily Design for Living

At Granite Recovery Centers, our drug rehab program offers a comprehensive and integrated treatment approach to treating co-occurring disorders. We combine evidence-based clinical treatment delivered by licensed clinicians with an engaging 12-Step curriculum design. This unique approach to treating addiction and co-occurring disorders, applied to a highly individualized treatment plan for each client, results in a healthy daily design for living that supports and encourages long term sobriety, personal fulfillment, and a life of purpose.

1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/comorbidity-substance-use-disorders-other-mental-illnesses