Getting and staying sober is no small feat for anyone. But for people with co-occurring disorders, it’s another challenge altogether—one that usually requires additional, nuanced and, ongoing care.
Firstly though, some definitions: a co-occurring disorder involves having a substance abuse disorder as well as one or more mental health issues. These can be tricky to navigate while still in the throes of addiction as one issue often amplifies the other. Many people resort to self-medicating or other unhelpful coping strategies in an attempt to manage their symptoms on their own, and most don’t realize how bad things have gotten until they start to improve and have found healthier ways to cope.
However, with the help of a trained clinician and a compassionate recovery program, mental health issues in recovery can become much more bearable.
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When an individual has a dual diagnosis, it is critical that they receive treatment for both aspects of their disease. Treating one without the other will offer limited benefits and likely present challenges to lasting recovery.
For example, someone may undertake treatment for their substance use, but continue to relapse and have difficulty maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This could be the result of an undiagnosed or untreated mental illness.
Either disorder has the potential to manifest first—a mental health issue might sometimes make substance misuse more likely, and substance abuse can lead to mental health issues in some situations. A licensed facility with experienced, trained clinicians will work to understand the underlying conditions so that they can create an effective treatment plan for full recovery.
What Is Self-Medicating?
Using substances to drown out overwhelming emotional issues typically magnifies the symptoms of mental health disorders. For example, if someone is bingeing cocaine to cope with their manic depressive condition, it might lead to a lack of sleep, which exacerbates manic symptoms. Cocaine’s stimulant effects can create extreme and irrational mood swings, leading to emotional outbursts, rash decision-making, and other unintended consequences that make matters worse.
If left misdiagnosed and untreated, co-occurring disorders will feed off each other, regardless of the substance. As symptoms progress, many are drawn to self-medicate with increasing amounts – which amplifies the condition and often leads to a vicious cycle of spree and remorse. Thankfully, this cycle can be interrupted by seeking treatment and following through. The desperation that accompanies this stage can often be a gift that enables people to seek the help they need.
Managing a Co-Occurring Disorder
Any treatment for a co-occurring disorder must address both mental health and substance abuse issues. For those with a diagnosed or potential co-occurring disorder, a thorough evaluation when beginning treatment is wise. Most evaluations are completed post detox, as detox itself is challenging, both emotionally and physically. Treatment for co-occurring disorders is best managed under the supervision of a specialist, as certain conditions can be life-threatening.
People who receive treatment at an accredited facility for both illnesses simultaneously are often the most successful. Ask specific questions if you’re not sure if the center you are interested in offers an integrated treatment plan like this.
Primary Mental Health Treatment in Portland
SLO Recovery Center developed our Mental Health Intensive Outpatient Program to provide comprehensive, compassionate outpatient treatment to those with mental health diagnoses and co-occurring disorders. The program is available to all adults recovering from mental health or substance abuse issues who need a supportive, empathetic environment. The program encourages patients to build healthy coping and recovery skills while treating their underlying mental health concerns.
Licensed, Experienced Mental Health Professionals
Our Mental Health Intensive Outpatient (IOP) program is led by a team of licensed mental health professionals dedicated to the success and growth of our patients. Following an initial mental health assessment, patients will work in tandem with their treatment team, which can include psychiatrists, registered nurses, therapists, and counselors. They will regularly meet with members of their team to clarify, further evaluate, and assess their recovery goals. Our seasoned treatment team combines CBT, DBT, Motivational Interviewing, CPT, Exposure Therapy, and a range of other tested modalities to promote lasting healing. Upon completion of the program, the team helps patients connect with mental health support services available within their community.
Get in touch today to learn more…