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an image of someone receiving co-occurring disorder treatment

Alcohol and substance use disorder (AUD and SUD) are the official medical diagnoses for people who have problems with their drug or alcohol use. These conditions are characterized by compulsive alcohol or drug use that continues despite consequences. Alcohol and substance use disorders are progressive conditions that range from moderate to severe.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about half of people who have SUD also experience mental illness. The presence of both a substance use disorder and a mental illness is called co-occurring disorders, also called dual diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders encompass a wide range of mental health disorders including:

The presence of both a substance use disorder and mental illness affects a significant number of people in the United States each year. Research shows that an estimated 17.0 million adults had a co-occurring disorder in 2020. 5.7 million of these people experienced severe impairment because of their diagnosis. 

Co-occurring disorders develop differently in different people. Some people have an existing mental illness and turn to substances to manage their symptoms. If they rely too heavily on meds, though, they may find themselves with both mental illness and SUD. Other times people develop mental illness as a result of their substance use.

Co-occurring disorders create serious challenges for the people living with them. They also present unique difficulties during treatment. Thankfully, co-occurring disorder treatment offers a specialized approach dedicated to treating dual diagnosis individuals. This tailored treatment approach ensures these individuals receive the vital care they need.

What is co-occurring disorder treatment, what are some examples, and how does it work?

Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorder

Traditional approaches to treatment are not as effective when working with individuals who have co-occurring disorders. Rather than programs that address either mental illness or substance use disorder, people with co-occurring disorders need a dedicated approach.

Integrated treatment refers to programs designed specifically for people experiencing co-occurring disorders. They include a combination of behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and recovery support. Additionally, individualized treatment plans that consider each person’s disorders and experiences are a crucial component of integrated treatment.

Residential Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorder

Residential treatment for co-occurring disorders is typically the first step in a comprehensive program. It includes full-time care with treatment during the day and residential services in the evening. This provides ongoing support around the clock during the first few weeks when your sobriety and mental health recovery are most at risk. Most residential programs last about 30 to 60 days.

Outpatient Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorder

Outpatient treatment for co-occurring disorders is the next step for an integrated treatment plan. After building a foundation during the first few weeks of sobriety, you typically move into an outpatient program. These programs serve as a transitional phase that provides ongoing support after full-time residential care before completing the program and returning home.

Finding a Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment Center

Are you struggling with a co-occurring disorder? Have you found that you cannot control your substance use while also living with the symptoms of mental illness? Finding a co-occurring disorder treatment center may be the best solution for you. 

There are many different programs available and deciding which is the right fit for you can be a challenge. You don’t have to handle your search alone, though; help is available. Reach out to us to speak with a treatment specialist who will help you understand your options and determine which program is best suited for your needs today!

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