Co-occurring disorders come with some of the toughest battles in enduring and overcoming substance addiction. The term co-occurring disorder refers to a condition in which a person has a co-existing mental illness with a substance abuse disorder. Substance addiction is a disease of the brain and many people don’t know six out of ten people with substance abuse disorders also have a mental illness.

How are Co-Occurring Disorders Treated?

From beautiful Tucson, Arizona to across the continental United States, you’ll find those who suffer from co-occurring disorders. In almost every major U.S. city, you can find treatment centers for those who suffer from co-occurring disorders. These treatment centers are trying to help keep co-occurring disorders managed and under control by helping one person at a time. When co-occurring disorders occur, the treatment plans are varied but all have one common theme or methodology. The intervention includes treatments and rehabilitation for both disorders. Common treatments are medications or psychosocial strategies that are aimed at controlling or eliminating the illness or disorder.

Experts agree that rehabilitation intervention for improving co-occurring disorders needs to provide improved supports that help the addiction and mental illness. Treatments are meant to help support those with mental illness and substance abuse addiction. As a result, those affected with both will be able to overcome, or at least control, their addiction and mental illness. That’s why a common feature is that the treatment and rehabilitation overlap for a long while.

Successful Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders

Successful treatment with co-occurring disorders is never measured in big steps or grand journeys. Co-occurring disorders have been researched thoroughly and most therapeutic approaches vary from treatment center to treatment center. The problem is many drug addicts will have co-occurring disorders that aren’t ever diagnosed. If the co-occurring disorder is diagnosed, many times, they don’t receive adequate care for their underlying mental health concerns. Also, up to 5% of the population struggle with mental illness at some level. Some are never treated, although many self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. That’s why the sum of the small steps measures success in treating co-occurring disorders. Small steps repeated daily improve the conditions as patients progress in treatment.

The most successful treatment of co-occurring disorders integrates solutions into recovery plans. Any disorder that has negative side effects, like fear of socialization with others, is treated first and foremost. Many times, these negative side effects are best treated with medication therapy. Also, the most successful treatments are with other patients with co-occurring disorder diagnoses in group therapy. Patients in group therapy have each other as a strong support network.

The support network needs to consist of others struggling with the same diagnosis of mental illness as well as addiction. The most important lesson learned in treating co-occurring diagnosis patients is preventing relapses. Prevention of relapses requires long-term support, continual counseling, and treatment. That’s why it’s so very important to deal with feelings of hopelessness or mental obstacles in a therapeutic setting. The setting needs to be structured to reflect and help those needs. If everyone is facing the right direction together and if they can keep on walking, they end up walking forward by managing their co-occurring disorders.

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