Right Tools at the Right Time: Treating Dual Diagnosis/Co-Occurring Disorders

Right Tools at the Right Time: Treating Dual Diagnosis/Co-Occurring Disorders

Right Tools at the Right Time: Treating Dual Diagnosis/Co-Occurring Disorders


May 30, 2019

It is extremely rare to encounter a client who carries only a diagnosis of a Substance Use Disorder (SUD).The term “dual-diagnosis” means that an individual has both a diagnosis of at least one SUD AND at least one mental health disorder. Who does it impact? And how do we develop SUD treatment that addresses the full scope of needs for the individual?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), 55%-65% of individuals who have a dual diagnosis are treated in community substance abuse treatment centers. 3.3% of all adults are dually diagnosed and 8.9 million adults have co-occurring disorders. Unfortunately, there is a divide in our healthcare system, because only 7.4% of individuals with dual diagnosis receive treatment for both conditions and 55.8% receive no treatment at all!

While it is difficult to flesh out the answer to the chicken-egg dilemma – which came first? The mental health challenges or the SUD, one thing most experts now agree on is that it is imperative to treat both concurrently. Both conditions exist together, interact with each other and we have to treat them together. Originally, the treatment field subscribed to the idea that the SUD needed to be treated and stabilized before you could address the mental health issues. However, that school of thought has completely shifted. Evidence-based research such as “Integrated Group Therapy for Bipolar Substance Use Disorder” by Dr. Roger Weiss and Dr. Hilary Connery have revolutionized the dual diagnosis treatment process.  

A recurrence of mental health symptoms can lead to an SUD relapse and vice-versa. However, it takes a skilled practitioner to identify how and when to address which problems. Exploring a mental health problem can elicit a stress response that can trigger use, while ignoring it can exacerbate symptoms and bring on a relapse.

The In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) model is designed to tailor treatment specifically to the unique needs of the client’s SUD and mental health issues. By comprehensively assessing the needs of the client in all dimensions of their wellness, practitioners are able to ensure clients are linked with the appropriate community providers and given the right tools at the right time. The Institute ensures in-home practitioners are armed with the skills needed to assess and implement appropriate interventions through rigorous training programs and exams while simultaneously working to increase accessibility to this model of care.

When you consider you or your loved ones’ treatment options – consider your needs and the toolbox your providers have. For more information about the In-Home Addiction Treatment Institute, email info@ihatinstitute.org or visit www.ihatinstitute.org.

By Sarah Allen Benton, LMHC, LPC and Sara Kaiser, MS Ed, LPN



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