Dual Diagnosis or Co-Occurring Disorders

dual diagnosis cooccurring disordersDual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders (CODs) refers to one or more disorders relating to the use of alcohol and/or other drugs, as well as one or more mental health disorders. Examples might include Major Depressive Disorder with cocaine addiction; alcohol addiction with Panic Disorder; Borderline Personality Disorder with substance use. There is no single combination, rather there is great variability among combinations of disorders.

More than half of all adults with severe mental illness are further impaired by substance use disorders. Compared to patients who have a mental health disorder or substance use disorder alone, clients with CODs often experience more severe and chronic medical, social, and emotional problems. The existence of two or more disorders causes potential for both substance use relapse, as well as worsening of the psychiatric disorder.

Addiction relapse often leads to psychiatric deterioration, whereas worsening of psychiatric problems often leads to addiction relapse creating a dangerous cycle. Relapse prevention must be specifically designed for patients with co-occurring disorders.

Both substance use and mental health disorders are rooted in biopsychosocial systems.  Sometimes the mental disorder occurs first, which can lead the individual to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, providing temporary relief. Sometimes, substance use occurs first, which can lead to symptoms indicative of one or more mental health related issues. Mental Health Disorders & Addiction are both dynamic processes, with fluctuations in:

• Severity
• Rate of Progression
• Symptom Manifestation
• Differences in speed of onset

Furthermore, both disorders are greatly influenced by several factors:

• Genetic Susceptibility
• Environment
• Pharmacological influences

Certain individuals have a high genetic risk for these disorders, whereas others may develop them due to environmental situations. It is also important to note that some drugs are more likely than others to cause psychiatric disorders. A common example includes methamphetamine induce psychosis or schizophrenia.

To provide appropriate treatment for CODs, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends integrated treatment for individuals suffering from CODs. Integrated treatment occurs when a person receives combined treatment for mental illness and substance use from the same clinician or treatment team. Integrated treatment helps individuals develop hope, knowledge, skills, and the support they need to manage their problems and to pursue meaningful life goals.

• Specific methods of integrated treatment include
• Screening, assessment, and referral.
• Mental and physical health consultation.
• The use of a prescribing onsite psychiatrist.
• Medication and medication monitoring.
• Psycho-educational groups.
• Psychotherapeutic groups.
• Individual Therapy Sessions.
• 12-step Based Program and/or spiritual support.
• Peer/Community Support.

When all components of integrated treatment are present, the likelihood of relapse in either mental illness and/or substance use disorders diminishes significantly. Long term recovery from the devastating effects of CODs is available and possible with integrated compassionate care.

Marie Tueller, MED, LPC

Benefits of Residential AddictionTreatment

You cannot heal in the same environment that made you sick. This is the philosophy behind our residential addiction treatment program. At Canyon Crossing, women learn to live life on life’s terms while staying in a safe, substance-free setting. This gives our clients the space and peace needed for lasting recovery.
Our residential program combines high-accountability sober living arrangements with first-rate clinical care. While staying in our homes, clients participate in process groups, one-on-one counseling sessions, and hands-on learning opportunities. They also receive ongoing training; in these meetings, life skills like financial management and conflict resolution are imparted. All of this happens with 24/7 encouragement, guidance, and supervision from our clinical team.
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