The History of Co Occurring Disorders and Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The History of Co-Occurring Disorders and Dual Diagnosis Treatment

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Co-occurring disorders refer to mental illnesses that include at least one alcohol or other drug use disorder and at least one non-drug-related mental disorder in the same person, which may be addressed with dual diagnosis treatment.[1]

In the past, each disorder was treated individually with little regard to how they’re interconnected and influence one another. Research into the nature of co-occurring disorders identified a need for integrated approaches that address the conditions concurrently.

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Co-occurring disorders are more complex than single disorders. Therefore, a dual diagnosis treatment program provides a more holistic mental health treatment. It also formulates an effective recovery plan that identifies and addresses the underlying conditions.

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

A person diagnosed with co-occurring disorders has a form of substance abuse – alcohol or drugs – and a mental health disorder. These disorders may include:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar depression
  • Dysthymia
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Social anxiety

History of Co-Occurring Disorders and Dual Diagnosis

The concept of co-occurring disorders arose in the 1980s. During this time federal health agencies and healthcare providers saw an increase in severe mental illness in younger populations.[2] These patients were referred to as dual diagnosis, mentally ill chemical abusers, substance-abusing mentally ill persons, and other terms, lending to the concept of co-occurring disorders.

Individuals diagnosed with co-occurring disorders typically received treatment for mental health conditions or substance-related disorders. The other condition was often unacknowledged, and for this population, ignoring one condition while treating the other can affect the overall treatment.

In addition, some treatment programs required patients to get sober and clean before seeking treatment for a mental health disorder. Since substance abuse can contribute to or be driven by mental health conditions, they often never received the help they needed.

The Effects of Treating Condition at a Time

This approach had a low success rate. The National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Drug Abuse, and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommended integrated treatment for mental health and substance-related disorders.

Since 1990, there has been recognition of the links between substance-use disorders and other adverse outcomes for patients with dual diagnoses. Research indicates that co-occurring substance abuse often leads to relapse, violence, disruptive behavior, homelessness, decreased functional status, and medication noncompliance.

Research also suggests that traditional, separate services for dual disorders are ineffective and that integrated dual diagnosis treatment programs that address both the substance abuse and the mental health condition are more promising. Researchers began to address the assessment and treatment of patients with dual diagnoses and the barriers they encounter in concurrently obtaining mental health and substance abuse services.[3]

Fortunately, the medical field has a new understanding of co-occurring disorders and has begun treating them as such. The person is now considered on an entire spectrum, both addiction- and mental-health-related, and otherwise, to get to the root of the problem.

Once this diagnosis is made, a holistic treatment plan can be used for rehabilitation and recovery from mental health and addiction. The treatment focuses on the two conditions, how they interact with and influence each other, and how they can be treated.

Benefits of Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual diagnosis became the standard usage in the index of Hospital and Community Psychiatry in 1989. It still refers to adults with severe mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders.

Dual diagnosis treatment is an integrated approach to treating co-occurring disorders. Instead of treating each condition individually, the treatment is focused on the person as a whole and the conditions together.

One of the issues with individual treatment is that some treatment methods can negatively affect one disorder while addressing the other. For example, some medications may be helpful in treating mental health conditions like anxiety or depression but may increase the risk of addiction.

If the addiction is ignored in this case, it can lead to more significant problems. Dual diagnosis considers both disorders and how treatment for one disorder may impact the other, and medications are considered for both.

Dual Diagnosis Rehab is the Best Standard of Care Whether Someone has a Diagnosed Co-Occurring Disorder, or Not

If a program is not set up for dual diagnosis care, a person with an undiagnosed mental health condition may not receive adequate treatment for lasting recovery.

Mental health disorders and substance use disorders also share risk factors like trauma, stress, and genetics. One can contribute to the other, such as a person with anxiety using drugs or alcohol to “relax” (self-medicating). Or substance use may make a person more susceptible to mental health disorders.

The symptoms of co-occurring disorders may be more severe and often require more medical, rehabilitative, and financial support. Approximately 7.2 million adults with co-occurring disorders do not receive any mental health treatment at all, including basic medical care. [4]

Therapists may also focus group therapy in dual diagnosis rehab on others with co-occurring disorders. Both addiction and mental health conditions may benefit from group therapy and interacting with others with similar conditions.

Dual diagnosis treatment also identifies the underlying triggers for relapse. It also provides a better understanding of triggers and more effective methods to avoid them.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Desert Cove Recovery Center

Co-occurring disorders require integrated treatment to address both conditions and formulate a recovery plan. We focus on treating chemical dependencies and other addictive and mental health disorders, emphasizing the individual.

Our professionals develop custom programs with tailored dual diagnosis treatment options. We do this to address symptoms of mental health disorders and substance use disorders together and treat the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs.