Why Is Integrated Treatment Impactful?

Jordyn Mastrodomenico, LCADC, LAC, CTP on Apr 11, 2023 in Treatment Orientation

Addiction and mental illness are treatable conditions. Have you ever wondered what happens if addiction and mental illness are developed at the same time? This phenomenon is called co-occurring disorders.

Co-occurring disorders, or the circumstance in which a person has at least one substance addiction disorder and at least one mental health disorder, have advanced in understanding, and we now know much more about them. Now it is evident that treating only a portion of the issue results in treatment failure, whereas treating all substance addiction and mental health disorders simultaneously as part of a holistic strategy has a much higher chance of success. Integrated treatment essentially means that both mental health and substance use therapy are provided by the same provider (or team of providers).

What Is Integrated Treatment?

Mental illnesses are brain disorders that frequently result in a decreased ability to cope with everyday demands of life, much like diabetes is a sickness of the pancreas. While addiction is a medical illness, substance abuse is a behavioral issue. Alcohol and other drug use habits that are harmful as a result of substance addiction and dependence cause severe impairment and distress.

When mental illness and addiction go hand in hand, it means that a person is suffering from a co-occurring disorder. This is when integrated treatment comes in. Integrated treatment refers to the employment of several treatments, such as the blending of medication like Suboxone and Subutex or therapy like CBT and DBT. The primary focus of integrative treatment is to address both mental and physical aspects of addiction and how it is leading to mental health disorders.

Why Mental Illness and Addiction Often Go Together

Sometimes it might be challenging to distinguish between an addiction and a mental illness. How can one tell if depression is brought on by substance usage, withdrawal from substances, or a diagnosable depressive disorder? How can one distinguish between anxiety brought on by cocaine abuse and anxiety disorders? How can someone tell the difference between mood swings brought on by the overuse of depressants like alcohol and stimulants like cocaine and bipolar disorder? Yes, it can be challenging to detect the difference. It may be surprising to learn that a sizable percentage of people seeking treatment for addiction also have a mental health condition.

A person may be more likely to struggle with addiction if they have depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, trauma, or ADHD. Because they are unaware they have a mental illness, the problem has gone misdiagnosed, or they don't like the medication recommended for their condition and how it makes them feel. Many people who experience emotional problems turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication. However, experts and people in recovery can attest that while these drugs may reduce symptoms temporarily, they ultimately worsen mental health problems. They are never cured.

Is Integrated Treatment Impactful?

Yes, integrated treatment is impactful because it:

  • offers simultaneous treatment of a mental health condition and an addiction
  • uses the same expert team for the treatment of both illnesses
  • creates a solid network of social support while receiving therapy
  • utilizes a variety of therapeutic modalities to address each person's goals and issues
  • offers flexible treatment options that take into account the unique requirements of each patient

Benefits of Integrated Treatment

Addiction treatment programs that offer dual diagnosis can help a person who is suffering from addiction and mental health disorders. Here are a few benefits of integrated treatment:

  • helps patients understand the role that drugs and alcohol play in their lives
  • tackles both the mental health condition and the substance abuse
  • gives patients the chance to learn about the interactions between drugs, the symptoms of mental illness, and other medications
  • utilizes these problems as a backdrop for investigating their own substance use
  • offers counseling that is provided in the form of individual, group, family, or a combination of these sessions
  • offers therapy that is specifically tailored to the special requirements of people with co-occurring illnesses
  • encompasses support services, such as employment assistance, and may aid patients in their recovery
  • helps patients determine personal recovery objectives and understand how each sickness will be recovered from

The Bottom Lineā€¦

Integrated treatment reduces symptoms and enhances the capacity for healthy functioning since it treats co-occurring illnesses concurrently. Abusing drugs or alcohol makes mental health issues worse.

Integrated treatment may help a person develop healthy coping mechanisms and more effective ways to manage the symptoms of a mental health condition by treating substance addiction as well as the underlying mental health disorder.

Jordyn Mastrodomenico is a Addictions Counselor in Fair Lawn, NJ.

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