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Integrated Mental Illness and Addiction Treatment: How it can Help

Integrated Mental Illness and Addiction Treatment

Mental illness and addiction are two disorders that are commonly found in the same individual at the same time. This is known as dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. With the rates of both problems on the rise, it is little wonder that many people are seeking a more beneficial approach to treatment.

Unfortunately, those who suffer from a dual diagnosis disorder often find themselves trapped by the endless cycle of addiction, treatment, and relapse because only one disorder is being treated. Mental illness can easily cause a person to self-medicate and then slide into addiction. Similarly, a person who is already addicted to alcohol and drugs may find themselves anxious, depressed, or suffering from a variety of other mental illnesses.

The ease at which this happens is evident in the fact that 50 percent of people who are diagnosed with a mental illness are also eventually diagnosed with an addiction disorder. Substances of abuse are most commonly alcohol, marijuana, and opioid drugs. All of these are capable of acting as a form of self-medication. The population of people who qualify as dual diagnosis patients or as having a co-occurring disorder is an underserved one.

There is a distinct gap between those who are being treated for a mental illness or an addiction and those that need both forms of treatment. This gap is often referred to as a treatment gap between substance abuse treatment and treatment for a mental illness. So, why does this treatment gap exist?

Many believe that the treatment gap exists due to lack of proper screening procedures and the fact that both mental illness and addictions are easily hidden. Someone who is specifically screened for mental illness might not disclose an addiction. This causes clinicians to miss the addiction and the addiction is left untreated. The same applies to the reverse where a person is screened for addiction and the mental illness is left untreated.

Another reason that it may exist is lack of proper training for healthcare officials. A person who is trained in mental health treatment may not be trained in addiction science. Again, the reverse is true. Furthermore, treatment for both mental illness and then treatment for the addiction may be costly.


Fortunately, some treatment centers, like those found on Detox.com, take a more integrated approach to treatment. This integrated approach reduces the cost of treatment by combining the two forms, gives the clinicians proper screening techniques, can be focused on those vulnerable to co-occurring disorders, and gives those who are self-medicating a better chance to find the right medication for their disorder or disorders.

In each case, an integrated treatment approach can help a person end their addiction and reduces the chances of a full relapse back into either their illness or their addiction. Although both mental illness and addiction can be chronic and reoccurring, combined treatment methods make this relapse or reoccurrence less likely. It is only with integrated treatment that those suffering from co-occurring disorders can truly find comprehensive treatment for both disorders.


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