Recovery is Evolving

doctor and female patient talk about mental health

In the 1970s, treatment professionals became aware of a real correlation between mental illnesses and substance abuse. Initially, the terms ‘dual diagnosis’ or ‘dual disorder’ were used to describe this but were confusing in that they implied there were only two diagnoses in place when there could be multiples ones. The term ‘co-occurring disorders’ has since replaced those terms and is defined as having one or more alcohol or drug abuse disorders and mental health challenges.

The mental illnesses that can co-occur with substance abuse include:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)

Public Awareness Allows For More Acceptance

Increased awareness of mental health issues has gone a long way in helping people seek treatment. For generations, people were taught to hide their symptoms and, if they sought treatment, to keep it quiet. “Therapy is for crazy people” was a jaded and common way to view those seeking help for their mental health conditions. Nowadays, the general public has become much more aware of the reality of living with a condition such as bipolar disorder or depression, taking away some of the stigmas. Today’s younger generation is much more accepting of mental health issues and more likely to speak openly about their own experiences with it. 

The same is true for alcoholism and addiction. While in the past, it was relegated to something people with no self-control experienced. It is widely understood today that people suffer from the disease of addiction and alcoholism, and with the proper diagnosis and treatment, they can achieve sobriety. Similarly to mental illness, those who struggled with substance abuse were encouraged to keep it a secret. Currently, there is a much more open climate in which people can talk about their experiences. 

One Size Does Not Fit All

Society has come a long way in how they treat and view co-occurring mental illnesses. For a long time, many people who needed individualized care, instead suffered in facilities reminiscent of the one featured in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. These asylums were a last resort that didn’t so much focus on providing what each patient needed but kept them out of society and from harming themselves or others. Many patients were pronounced hopeless either due to mismanagement or a lack of understanding of how to help them.

Today there are many more options, such as PHP (partial hospitalization program), IOP (intensive outpatient program), and residential programs in which each person is fully evaluated for co-occurring illnesses, and a treatment plan is created specifically for them. Patients are not expected to fit a pre-formed mold; they are given the respect of discovering who they are and what they need to manage their illnesses and live a productive life. Often families are offered the opportunity to participate via family therapy appointments, which gives them a better understanding of what their loved one is experiencing and arms them with ways to assist them.

Legislation Has Helped Treatment Evolve

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, which was a game-changer for millions. While offering newfound protection to those with physical disabilities, it also reclassified several mental illnesses as disabilities, opening the door for many to experience assistance with obtaining and understanding the rights to employment, schooling, public service and accommodation, and home life situations. President George H.W. Bush signed the Act into law, and it is considered by many to be more than just protection, but a piece of civil rights legislation. 

When the Affordable Care Act was passed under the Obama Administration, it offered protection from insurance companies that typically refuse to cover pre-existing conditions. For someone suffering from mental health challenges that often require long-term care, allowing coverage for pre-existing conditions can mean the difference between having access to treatment options, and not being able to afford any treatment at all. For example, someone suffering from an eating disorder may benefit from seeking individual counseling, a nutritionist, going to an IOP or residential program, and after-care treatment. If all of these become something they can only fund out-of-pocket, many sufferers or their families have no options to provide for professional help. 

Treatment Options for Your Clients

Clients who need help dealing with co-occurring diagnoses are fortunate to live in a time where there are many treatment options available. Studies on genetic predisposition and the environment in which a person lives or grew up, continue to shed light on what causes co-occurring disorders and how best to treat them. The continued revising of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) creates an ongoing conversation about what treatment professionals know and what modalities and definitions can be updated. All of this provides myriad options for designing a treatment plan for those who need help with their co-occurring disorders. 

Once upon a time, there were few options for treating either addiction or mental illnesses for people of all ages. Nowadays, incredible strides have been made in understanding both conditions, as well as the commonly co-occurring disorders that afflict so many people. Sustain Recovery provides Outpatient Services, Intensive Outpatient Programs, Partial Hospitalization Programs, and Residential or Inpatient Services. We understand the unique challenges that face adolescents who struggle with co-occurring disorders, and our professional staff can help design a treatment plan that addresses all of them. Our California programs provide the specialized treatment that adolescents in trouble require. If you need assistance finding help for a child who deals with both the disease of addiction and mental illness, call us today to discuss how we can help them heal and become whole again.

Get your child on the road to wellness today! (949) 407-9052