Mental health disorders often contribute to substance abuse issues, including alcohol and drug addiction. In 2014, just under 8 million Americans had a dual diagnosis, meaning they struggled with both a mental health issue as well as substance abuse.
Mental health and substance abuse treatment centers treat those with both a mental health issue as well as addiction.
What do mental health and substance abuse treatment centers treat?
Mental health and addiction specialists agree that mental illness often contributes to alcoholism and drug addiction. This is particularly true because many people who don't know how to deal with their emotional, psychological, or physical pain turn to a substance like drugs or alcohol to try to self-medicate. Unfortunately, research shows that substances like drugs and alcohol do not help with mental health disorder symptoms, and can often aggravate them even further.
Mental health and substance abuse treatment centers treat both mental health disorders as well as addiction to drugs and alcohol (and other behavioral addictions). They treat individuals who have both a mental health disorder like:
- Anxiety Disorder
- ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Eating Disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa)
- Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
- PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder)
and an addiction like:
- Prescription drug addiction (OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, etc.)
- Heroin addiction
What kinds of mental health and substance abuse treatment centers are there?
There are two primary rehabilitation programs when it comes to mental health and substance abuse treatment. The first is inpatient rehab, which requires participants to live on site for as long as treatment lasts. Room, board, medications, therapy, and all other forms of treatment are taken care of by the rehab facility, leaving the participant to concentrate solely on recovery. Inpatient rehab is strongly recommended for those struggling with severe mental health issues in addition to substance abuse.
Outpatient programs allow patients to live at home, rather than at the rehab facility itself. Outpatient rehab is thus generally less disruptive to everyday life. Some patients start at an inpatient facility and then continue at an outpatient clinic for ongoing recovery.
All rehab programs respect confidentiality. Discussions with therapists and doctors are protected, as well as any diagnosis a person is given.
How do you pay for a mental health and substance abuse treatment center?
Both public and private facilities exist for mental health and substance abuse treatment. Some accept insurance, and the Affordable Care Act requires certain health plans to cover benefits that include mental health treatment as well as treatment for substance abuse. Thus, insurance may cover treatment.
Depending on your insurance plan and the mental health and substance abuse treatment in question, private payment may also be required. If your insurance isn't enough to cover the rehab program, financing options may be available from the rehab center itself (i.e. paying in installments). The goal is always to get help to those who need it.
What does treatment look like at a mental health and substance abuse treatment center?
Rehabilitation and other centers that specialize in mental health and substance abuse treatment are specifically equipped to treat individuals that suffer from both conditions. Most mental health professionals advocate for treatment that addresses both issues at the same time. This is also known as an integrated treatment approach.
Integrated treatment uses therapeutic modalities and medication plans from both a mental health and substance abuse context. Combining treatment strategies is shown to improve outcomes as well as the patient's overall experience. According to the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, integrated treatment tends to lower costs and lead to:
- Lowered rate of substance use
- Improved psychiatric functioning and a reduction in symptoms
- Decreased hospitalization
- Fewer arrests
- Improvements in housing stability
- Higher quality of life
Medications also play an important role in a treatment plan for someone struggling with both a mental health disorder and substance abuse issue. For example, a medicine might lessen the effects of depression, making it possible for that patient to then focus on psychotherapy, leading to more profound and lasting change.
Common medications for those recovering from mental health conditions and substance abuse include antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers. Research shows that medicines are often much more effective when combined with therapy.
Treating alcoholism and drug addiction alongside co-occurring mental health disorders helps in a number of ways, including:
- Group therapy is more effective for those with co-occurring disorders when they're around peers with the same struggle
- Quality integrated recovery plans use prescribed medications that address both the substance abuse and the mental health disorder, such that medicines complement one another
- Integrated recovery takes into account the unique needs of those recovering from mental health disorders, such as their frequent fear of social interaction, lower attention spans and lowered motivation levels
What happens after leaving a mental health and substance abuse treatment center?
Leaving a mental health treatment center does not mean recovery is "over". Those managing and recovering from both a mental health disorder and substance abuse issue must be vigilant about getting the right support on an ongoing basis. This often involves continuing to attend support groups, as well as continuing to go to therapy and take any prescribed medication just as prescribed. Fortunately, when the right support is in place, the prognosis is quite good.
It's never too late to address mental health and/or substance abuse. Many of those with a dual diagnosis go to treatment and come out on the other side stronger, more resilient, and more equipped to thrive. Treatment leads to hope, hope to determination, and determination to success.