Massachusetts Dual Diagnosis (Co-Occurring Disorder) Treatment

Millions of people in the United States have a substance use disorder (SUD). Nearly half also live with a mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Dual-diagnosis treatment is the most effective type of treatment program for people with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.

Substance abuse and addiction commonly co-occur with mental health disorders. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about 9.2 million—or 3.7 percent—of adults in the United States had both a substance use disorder and mental illness in 2018.

In Massachusetts, over 230,000 residents are believed to have co-occurring disorders. Having both a substance use disorder and mental illness can make recovering from addiction a greater challenge. Achieving recovery when you have co-occurring disorders, however, is possible with the right treatment.

Dual diagnosis treatment programs are the most effective type of treatment to address the mental, psychological, and physical effects of substance abuse in people with co-occurring disorders.

At Spring Hill Recovery, our approach to substance abuse treatment takes into account the unique challenges and barriers to addiction recovery that residents with co-occurring disorders can experience.

In consideration of this, dual-diagnosis treatment is a cornerstone of our residential rehab and intensive outpatient programs for people who can benefit from both substance misuse and mental health treatment.

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is a term that is used to describe having more than one mental health or substance use disorder. This is also known as having co-occurring or comorbid disorders.

Nearly 50 percent of people who receive treatment for substance abuse also have a mental health disorder, according to national estimates. The reasons for this can be complex.

For many, drugs and alcohol can be used as a way to self-medicate symptoms of mental illness. Unfortunately, while drugs and alcohol may help to numb some symptoms, abusing drugs and alcohol can also make symptoms worse over time. This can create greater emotional and psychological distress, including increased risk for suicide.

Common types of dual diagnoses include:

  • Major Depression
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder
  • Postpartum Depression

Like alcohol and drug abuse, many mental health disorders are believed to be caused by a combination of biological, environmental, and social factors.

It’s also well-known that drug and alcohol abuse may cause symptoms that overlap with mental health disorders, such as reckless behavior, depressive thoughts, anxiety, and paranoia.

The reasons why people with mental illness develop a problem with drugs or alcohol—and vice versa—can be complex. The first step towards better understanding the link between a person’s substance abuse and mental illness is to enter a detox program to get sober.

Drugs and alcohol can both mask and exacerbate psychological symptoms in people. Becoming sober can clarify which symptoms may have been caused by the substance abuse. Completing detoxification can also inform an effective treatment plan for treating both co-occurring disorders.

How Dual Diagnosis Programs Can Help Treat Co-Occurring Disorders

Dual diagnosis is a type of treatment that is customizable to address all of a person’s co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.

Dual diagnosis treatment centers operate on the principle that treatment must address all co-occurring disorders simultaneously, rather than one or the other at different points in time.

Evidence-based dual diagnosis treatment models include:

  • Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment (IDDT)
  • Dual Diagnosis Enhanced
  • Modified Therapeutic Community
  • Open Access Scheduling

All evidence-based models treat co-occurring disorders equally and at the same time. Historically, this wasn’t always the case. But over time and through research, addiction treatment professionals have determined that treating co-occurring disorders at the same time is the most effective approach to dual diagnosis care.

Leaving mental illness untreated or undiagnosed in a person’s treatment plan is one of the most common causes of relapse among people with co-occurring disorders. For people with mental illness, getting sober and receiving treatment for substance abuse is only half the battle.

Diagnosing Co-Occurring Disorders In Those With Substance Abuse Issues

Diagnosing mental health disorders in people with a history of drug and alcohol abuse can be tricky. In part, this is because drugs and alcohol are substances that can alter brain chemistry and affect emotions.

When used very frequently or in heavy amounts, drugs can have significant effects on both the brain and body—known as substance-induced symptoms. This can complicate the process of diagnosing a mental illness.

The process of diagnosing co-occurring disorders may involve a series of steps:

Detox: Getting sober is the most effective way for treatment professionals to identify mental illness or confirm symptoms that had been triggered by a person’s substance abuse.

The safest way to stop using addictive substances is through medical detox at a drug detox center. Alcohol and drug detox centers offer a safe and supervised setting for people with drug or alcohol addiction to safely withdraw from substances.

Clinical Assessment: After detoxification, treatment professionals may perform a clinical assessment to identify any co-occurring medical or mental health disorders.

They may ask questions about mental health symptoms, including when symptoms first began, and if they preceded your substance abuse. Dual diagnosis treatment may or may not then be recommended as an appropriate treatment option.

Monitoring Symptoms: Chronic and severe substance abuse can have long-lasting effects on mental health. After you get sober, some symptoms—such as anxiety and depression—may continue for some time.

Throughout your treatment, treatment professionals may continue to monitor your symptoms for any changes. This can give your treatment team a better idea of what type of treatment you may need to achieve and sustain long-term recovery.

Types Of Dual Diagnosis Treatment Services

Dual diagnosis treatment programs may involve several components, depending on the offerings of a rehab center, your diagnoses, and other personal factors.

Treatment for mental health disorders can vary, depending on the type of disorder, the severity, and past treatment history. Everyone comes into a treatment program with different needs.

Through an initial assessment, treatment professionals who are specialized in treating both mental illness and addiction can identify which types of treatment services may be most beneficial for a person.

Dual diagnosis treatment services may include:

  • Behavioral Therapy (e.g. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy)
  • Medication Management
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
  • Psychiatric Services
  • Trauma-Focused Therapy
  • Psychoeducational Classes
  • Modified Self-Help Groups
  • Dual Recovery Groups
  • Holistic Therapies

Dual diagnosis is commonly thought of as a whole-person approach to treatment. This means it takes into account the effects of co-occurring disorders on physical, mental, and emotional health.

A licensed counselor who is dually trained in treating substance abuse and mental health can help residents with co-occurring disorders identify their triggers and develop supportive coping strategies. In addition, attending dual diagnosis group therapy can allow you to gain insight from others who face similar struggles and participate in skill development.

Medication is not a required form of treatment within all dual diagnosis programs. Some people with co-occurring disorders wish to avoid the use of medications in their treatment. This is an option that may be discussed with your treatment team, who can provide informed treatment recommendations.

Facts And Statistics About Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders are very common among people who enter treatment for substance abuse and addiction in Massachusetts and the greater New England area.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who have co-occurring disorders do not receive specialized mental health and substance abuse treatment. According to the Health Policy Commission of Massachusetts, only about 7 percent of adults with co-occurring disorders received both substance abuse and mental health care.

Lack of access to treatment, stigma, and financial concerns are believed to be some of the most common barriers to receiving treatment. In addition, not all drug rehab centers may have specially trained dual diagnosis staff. This can result in misdiagnosis, underdiagnosis, and less effective treatment.

In the United States:

  • Adults with post-traumatic stress disorder experience high rates of alcohol abuse (42 percent) and drug dependence (22 percent).
  • About half of people with eating disorders—such as anorexia or bulimia—struggle with substance abuse at some point in their life.
  • Twenty percent of people with a mood disorder like anxiety or depression also have a substance use disorder.

Where To Find Dual-Diagnosis Treatment For Co-Occurring Disorders

Many drug and alcohol rehab centers offer dual diagnosis treatment programs and mental health counseling through inpatient and residential rehab programs.

Inpatient treatment is the most highly recommended form of treatment for people who are actively struggling with addiction or have recently become sober. Dual-diagnosis treatment may be integrated within a formal inpatient or residential treatment plan. Not every addiction treatment facility may offer dual diagnosis care, however.

Certain components of dual diagnosis treatment—such as behavioral counseling and psychiatric services—are also offered in some outpatient treatment settings, such as in partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient programs.

Outpatient treatment services may be available through an addiction treatment center, mental health clinic, or other outpatient behavioral health providers.

Find Dual Diagnosis Treatment At Spring Hill Recovery Center

Spring Hill Recovery Center understands the importance of finding the best treatment program to help you or a loved one improve your health and overcome addiction for good. If you or a loved one is searching for dual diagnosis treatment in or near Massachusetts, look no further than Spring Hill.

We serve clients who come from throughout the northeastern United States, including those from all over the state of Massachusetts.

Just a few of the areas in Massachusetts we can provide help to include:

Our accredited treatment center in Ashby, Massachusetts offers a personalized treatment approach that involves creating a treatment plan that is custom-fit to meet the individual needs of our patients. This includes patients with co-occurring disorders and a history of trauma.

Spring Hill offers a range of treatment programs in a comfortable, home-like setting, including residential rehab, intensive outpatient programs, and aftercare. We offer both evidence-based and holistic treatment services capable of helping patients heal from the physical, mental, and psychological effects of addiction and mental illness.

By scheduling an initial assessment with our treatment staff, we can help you determine which type of treatment program may be right for you. We can also field any questions you may have about accepted insurance and assist in travel arrangements for patients traveling from out-of-state.

For more information about Spring Hill’s dual diagnosis program and the types of treatment services we offer, call us today to learn more.

  1. Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Health Policy Commission—Co-Occurring Disorders Care in Massachusetts
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—Key Substance Use Findings 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
  3. National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)—Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders
  4. Anxiety and Depression Association of America—Substance Use Disorders

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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