What Gets Treated First with Co-occurring Disorders?

What Gets Treated First with Co-occurring Disorders?

Substance use can change people’s behaviors, moods, and personalities. When this happens, it is difficult to determine underlying causes like mental illness or trauma. Living with undiagnosed mental health issues can make a person feel pushed to the margins. Addiction is, in itself, a mental illness, but it is one that needs treatment before anything else happens so that other underlying issues can be dealt with at the same time.

Treating Co-occurring Disorders

Often the symptoms of one disorder can contribute to the other, which make it hard to recover from one without treating the other. Steps need to be taken to treat co-occurring disorders that may not be necessary for substance use disorders alone. Often, when a person sees a doctor or other professional, the first step is an assessment and diagnosis. Through interviewing the person and talking to family, there is a treatment plan established for care.

Other Factors

Sometimes, symptoms of a mental health disorder underlying substance abuse may not be attributed to an independent, co-occurring disorder. Substance abuse symptoms can manifest in ways similar to symptoms of other mental health disorders, making it seem there is another issue going on.

Treatment Options

When seeking treatment, it is sort of a chicken and egg scenario. It is hard to tell sometimes what comes first and what to treat initially. Trained personnel who look at a holistic, integrated model of approach can see how it all works together and weave a plan of action. Integrated treatment plans include professionals and programs that meet the special needs of those with co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders. It is important to treat depression and alcoholism based on how they reinforce each other to have a chance of resolution. Therapeutic techniques that may be used include:

  • Education to help the person understand all the complexities
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help them recognize triggers
  • Family therapy to understand family dynamics and roles
  • Medications to reduce symptoms and control any issues

Post-Treatment and Recovery

After inpatient treatment, it is important for the person to continue aftercare, including a treatment regimen as required for co-occurring disorders. Aftercare may consist of counseling, therapy, self-help, medication, 12-step groups, motivational, and alternative therapies where desired. The overall treatment plan will vary person to person but it should encompass aspects of mental, physical, and spiritual well-being to best support a holistic approach to healing.

The Palmetto Center is based on a Therapeutic Community model. We help people learn how to live free of addiction. We aim to provide tailored support for your journey of recovery. Our program provides special focus for professionals including chiropractors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and more who need help with addiction recovery. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.