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When an individual is struggling with both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, the two conditions are referred to as “co-occurring disorders,” or “dual diagnoses.” According to a Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry study, 82 percent of teens who entered a treatment program for addiction also met the criteria for a mental health disorder.
At Sandstone Care, we understand the importance of treating the whole person, which includes addressing co-occurring disorders concurrently with substance abuse and/or addiction.
Often, a mental health issue can lead to a substance use problem: for example, a teen is feeling depressed and turns to marijuana to numb the feeling. And sometimes substance use can actually trigger a mental health issue; latent schizophrenia may emerge in the early adult years as a result of drug use. These two types of disorders can greatly influence and exacerbate each other.
Because of the overlap in symptoms, it’s very important to accurately assess and treat both challenges together. If not treated this way, recovery can be much more difficult, as treatment may only be focusing on one half of the problem. An individual can attend an alcohol rehab program, but never address the underlying anxiety disorder. While they may learn to stop drinking, the root of the issue isn’t addressed and another substance or unhealthy pattern may come into their life to cope with the anxiety. Conversely, many people seek help for mental health disorders, not fully comprehending that their substance use may be greatly contributing to their mental health in a negative way. If you or your loved one is working towards recovery and a whole, healthful life, it’s important to find a support program that understands and treats co-occurring disorders effectively.
A truly individualized treatment approach begins with thorough assessment. We want to learn how our clients see their challenges and strengths, as well as what their loved ones see and experience. Our licensed assessment specialists take the time to consult with previous programs and therapists, if applicable, and also use evidence-based assessment tools. Our bio/psycho/social assessment process includes screening for substance use disorders, mental health, trauma, family dynamics, peer relationships, academic and vocational strengths and weaknesses, and much more.
In addition to a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse assessment with a licensed clinician, upon admission to our program, clients participate in a psychiatric assessment with our medical director. Our experienced psychiatrist helps clients to explore options to improve mental health including medication, holistic approaches such as amino acid therapy, and lifestyle changes. Clients have access to our psychiatrist on a weekly basis or as needed throughout treatment for ongoing dual diagnosis support and medication management.
At Sandstone Care, we believe that knowledge is power. If a person is struggling with co-occurring disorders, it is important for both them and their family to understand how these disorders interact, common symptoms, and best practices for treatment. We educate not only our clients but also their loved ones about the disorders they are managing, and provide clear guidance about what to expect in recovery.
Sandstone Care’s treatment approach incorporates aspects of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a treatment modality that has been shown to be effective for both substance use disorders (SUD) as well as personality disorders (most notably borderline personality disorder) and mood disorders. DBT supports emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and flexibility in thinking. Sandstone Care’s approach also emphasizes mindfulness, which has been shown to be effective in treating trauma, depression, and anxiety.
At Sandstone Care, we take a relational and systemic approach to substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. We do not blame family members for the struggles of their loved ones, but instead help them to see themselves as empowered and hopeful participants in the recovery process. Family members participate in weekly groups as well as family therapy sessions focused on fostering secure attachment, healthy boundaries, increased trust and decreased conflict.
Often academic and vocational concerns are considered to be outside the scope of clinical treatment. However, at Sandstone Care we believe that these are integral in supporting sobriety and mental wellness. Having a full and meaningful life in which clients feel successful and valued outside of treatment is part of what sets them up for long-term success. We are focused on helping our clients to achieve their goals and find a sense of self-efficacy beyond our four walls. We have seen the power of common-sense interventions like helping clients find jobs they love and learn study skills so they can finally achieve the academic success of which they have always been capable.
If you are worried that you or your loved one may need support in addressing co-occurring substance use and mental health issues, help is available. Sandstone Care has expertise in treating co-occurring disorders at our locations in Colorado and Maryland Don’t wait, contact us today.
Starting the conversation is the best first step. We are here to help in any way possible!