Across the globe, the existence of substance use disorder occurring with a mental illness is not uncommon. Researchers know that mental illness can occur at any time someone suffers from a substance abuse disorder. The same is said for a substance disorder likely occurring during mental illness. Since as many as half of all substance abuse disorders are also accompanied by mental illness, it is imperative that we effectively screen for and treat dual diagnoses with effective practices and compassion. A comprehensive treatment approach that uses 12-Step programs to treat dual diagnosis is an evidence-based plan. This plan can give patients the tools for living the lives they were meant to live.
Dual Diagnosis: What Does That Mean?
In basic terms, a dual diagnosis is a terminology used for someone who is diagnosed with substance use disorder while also being diagnosed with a mental illness at the same time. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.2 million adults in the United States experienced a substance use disorder and mental illness.
If you are dually diagnosed, you may hear the terms co-occurring or co-morbid. That means that the mental health issues you are dealing with are in addition to the substance use disorder. The two can happen at the same time, as is often the case, or sometimes one after the other. Since the nature of both issues is serious, their interaction can make it difficult for you to battle either or both without help.
The problem with dual diagnosis treatments is that all too often, programs that treat mental illness are not necessarily prepared to treat those who suffer from substance abuse disorders and vice versa. That’s why it’s essential when you treat dual diagnosis that you are part of a program that addresses each layer of your dual diagnosis. Treatment depends on proper screening and integrated methods.
Addressing Individual Issues Holistically
In 2018, a review of studies confirmed that clinical best practices to treat dual diagnosis were integrated substance use and mental health treatment programs that incorporated 12-steps. The reviews found that, generally, dual-diagnosis patients who attended 12-step programs reported higher success rates in their substance use disorders than those who did not have similar 12-step treatment.
Research suggests that when 12-step programs are holistically integrated with other individual treatments, you are more likely to see improvements in your overall improved health, self-esteem, positive outlook, and reduced anxiety. This greatly affects your ability to balance mental health, as well as improve your quality of life.
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Why 12-Steps Treat Dual Diagnosis Effectively
The 12-step method of recovery is most commonly synonymous with treating alcoholism and was first described in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. As clinicians saw the benefits of the principles 12-step programs offer, it became an effective way of treating additional substance use disorders as well as being integrated to address mental health issues as well.
According to the American Psychological Association, the efficacy of 12-step programs is based on a few common truths you admit and realize as you go through the steps. In admitting you can’t control your addiction or compulsion, you recognize you need help to get your life back. You begin to examine your past mistakes with the support of sponsors and clinicians who truthfully and honestly help you see things for what they are. Then you will learn to draw on strength from a greater power and desire to make amends for things you may need to. The 12-steps help you learn to live the life you are meant to with a new perspective and desire to help others as well.
When you go through recovery to treat dual diagnosis, you learn that substance abuse and addiction are also spiritual sicknesses. This is why the 12-step programs are also effective in helping with mental health diagnoses as well. Compassionate clinicians like those at Ocean Hills Recovery know that when you are suffering from dual diagnoses, you need experienced methods to help you treat the physical, spiritual, social, emotional, and mental health aspects. They offer a unique treatment approach they call Collaborative Recovery to do this.
Collaborative Recovery And 12-Steps Work Together
Ocean Hills Recovery’s Collaborative Recovery system is designed so that all aspects of the disease you are suffering are addressed. It’s an integrated approach that utilizes the 12-step program effectively and compassionately to address the underlying roots of your substance use disorder. The trusted staff applies evidence-based medical therapies to ensure your mental health struggles are not overlooked.
When you treat dual diagnosis issues with Ocean Hills Recovery, you’re not alone in your journey. Ocean Hills Recovery knows that all too often, a traditional substance abuse treatment program may fail because your mental health struggles are not also being addressed. They offer opportunities for safe detox, holistic approaches, and effective 12-step practices to ensure your full body and mind are on the road to the life you were meant to live. You don’t have to suffer alone; let Ocean Hills Recovery envelop you in a community committed to healing your body and your mind.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.