Dual Recovery Treatment for Co-occurring Disorders

In America, mental health and substance abuse affect a large portion of the population. 8.9 million Americans are living with a co-occurring condition, with only 7.4% receiving the appropriate treatment. Substance abuse and mental illness are commonly treated independently from one another; however, these conditions often exist in relation to the other and need to be treated accordingly. Many substance abuse programs lack the holistic approach needed to treat patients suffering from drug abuse and mental illness. Rehab facilities and centers should look at implementing dual recovery programs in their curriculum or recovery pathway.

What are Dual Recovery Programs?

Dual recovery programs are based on a holistic treatment approach to creating long-lasting wellness.  Dual recovery examines and acknowledges the interconnectedness of drug abuse and mental illness and treats both these conditions using a variety of methods. Patients that enter a dual recovery program receive a dual diagnosis of co-occurring disorders.

Co-occurring Disorders and Dual Diagnosis

Co-occurring disorder and dual diagnosis describe individuals that have two conditions co-existing at the same time. In Mental health, this commonly refers to those that have mental illness and a substance abuse disorder. When substance and psychiatric disorders co-exist, their severity may differ or be affected by the other condition. For example, substances are often used to self-treat mental illness, which causes substance abuse to increase over time.

Challenges of Dual Diagnosis

Diagnosing co-occurring conditions can be difficult. There are many ways that mental illness and substance abuse interact and affect one another, which makes pinpointing symptoms specific to each condition a challenge.

Dual Recovery: An Integrated Approach

Dual recovery is based on using an integrated and holistic approach to treating co-occurring conditions. The conditions are addressed and treated separately in a single location; the program acknowledges that without treatment and recovery of mental illness, efforts to treat addiction will be ineffective. A dual recovery program recognizes that treatment of these disorders is complex and that treatment plans need to be individualized for long-lasting wellness.

Dual Recovery Treatment Methods

Dual recovery treatment begins with a clinical assessment. The results of this clinical assessment serve as the foundation from which a unique and individualized treatment plan is designed. Because co-occurring conditions can affect the psychological, physical, and emotional state of people affected, treatment is often long and draws on a variety of methods.

Treatment methods utilized in dual recovery include:

  • Appointments and meetings with psychiatrists who perform a clinical assessment, provide a diagnosis and prescribe medications.
  • Sessions with therapists who provide the skills and tactics for avoiding and handling triggers.
  • Holistic treatments that include, nutritional counseling, meditation, yoga, and other exercises that focus on the mind, body, spirit connection.
  • Post-rehab support

Mental health and addiction treatments are often isolated from one another. The traditional separated systems of care are insufficient for providing long-lasting wellness. Programs that utilize an integrated approach and individualized treatment plan must replace traditional systems. Dual recovery programs offer a great resource for holistically treating mental illness and addiction. Those struggling with co-occurring conditions can benefit from the treatment methods used in a dual recovery program.  

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