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Co-Occurring Disorders

Medically Reviewed Fact Checked
Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Co-Occurring Disorders

Many individuals who suffer from mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, also struggle with co-occurring medication dependence or drug and alcohol addiction. This is referred to as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis, and is much more prevalent than one may think.

Our team is experienced and fully able to treat dually diagnosed clients.

Dual Diagnosis Is a Growing Problem

A federal study recently revealed that: 53% of drug users also have mental health conditions and 37% of alcohol abusers also have mental health conditions.

Facing the dual challenges of treating mental health problems and successfully recovering from addiction requires specialized and qualified help. Clients need expert coordination of mental health treatment with education and recovery for drug, alcohol or prescription medication addiction. This is why we created our dual diagnosis treatment program.

Alternative to Meds Center’s program is staffed by medical professionals and licensed counselors as well as individuals who have overcome addiction and mental health problems themselves.

What is Self-Medication?

One of the important aspects of addressing dual diagnosis addiction is educating clients about self-medication. In the education components, we cover:
  • Underlying causes of the mental health symptoms that led to self-medicating and
  • The mechanisms that feed addiction, such as denial and guilt.

We educate our dual-diagnosis program residents about the conditions they are struggling with and how to successfully manage them with coping skills.

Clients receive peer support, encouragement from staff, and ongoing inspiration to choose healthy behaviors and productive coping skills superior in their efficacy to addiction or medication use.

Since self-esteem issues are commonly part of the underlying mental health and addiction problems, Alternative to Meds Center makes it a priority to provide positive feedback. We hold weekly graduations to congratulate participants on their huge accomplishments.

Components of the Dual-Diagnosis Program

While each client receives a treatment approach that is entirely customized to their individual needs and situation, some aspects of our program are provided to all clients.

All clients receive individual counseling, peer support, and group therapy.

Individual counseling helps clients work through their fears and psychological aspects of addiction, while group therapy and peer support allow clients to bounce ideas off of their peers, help peers through the recovery process, and receive help from peers.

While our program is alternative to the 12-step model, we do offer the option of transportation to 12-step programs such as AA or NA and staff members who can guide clients through that process.

Customized Treatment Plans

Each client receives customized treatment that will uniquely address their needs.

Upon admission, each resident receives lab testing and medical assessments to ensure that their physical needs are met. This may mean medication tapering and withdrawal methods, body detoxification techniques, and other protocols that make the process of getting off medication, drugs, or alcohol comfortable and smooth.

Sedona addiction treatment centerThe atmosphere of our dual diagnosis addiction treatment center is more like a spa than a rehab facility and offers our residents the luxurious comforts of home.

Our goal is to help the dually diagnosed become free of self-medication and addiction as well as effectively address the mental health issues that led to addiction/self-medication. At Alternative to Meds Center, we realize the increasing need for dual diagnosis addiction treatment and provide specialized, custom treatment plans for the dually diagnosed.

While this process does require medical supervision and direction and the help of licensed therapists, we also provide a diverse variety of therapeutic approaches to help the body and mind move through the recovery process as smoothly and comfortably as possible. Therapies that we offer include massage, acupuncture, yoga, exercise, hiking, Qigong, art therapy, ionic footbaths, swimming, Jacuzzi, chelation, sauna therapy, holistic medicine, diet therapy, supplementation, whole and organic foods, and much more.

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Diverse Treatment Methods Allow for Real Recovery

The term co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, is used when a person is suffering from both substance abuse (drugs, alcohol) and also from a condition of mental distress like depression, schizophrenia, or physical dysfunction, like pain.

Often, drugs or alcohol are used to mask or self-medicate symptoms of mental or physical distress. It is also often the case that drug and alcohol abuse cause symptoms of mental and physical distress. So it can be easy to overlook an important segment of the healing process, if one focuses on just one side of the multi-faceted problem.

Mental illness and addiction occurring at the same time can be one of the most difficult situations to live with.

A workman who injures himself on the job, may begin taking painkillers for relief. His injury may be slow to heal or lead to chronic pain, so he continues taking the pain pills and soon finds that if he misses a dose; he becomes sick, irritable and depressed.

Now he has a co-occurring disorder of physical pain, and mental distress, and because he is dependent on the medication, he begins stealing to procure more medication. One helps a person out of this morass of symptoms best by addressing each of the various factors of the problem.

protocols to treat dual-diagnosisStaff must have received adequate training and must have a thorough understanding of the various situations that plague an individual who suffers with co-occurring disorders. This is the approach used at Alternative to Meds Center. The whole problem can be treated by providing relief and improvement in each area of distress. This is why Alternative to Meds Center’s co-occurring disorders treatment has become the therapy of choice for this condition.

We specialize in addiction and mental health, and know how to provide the necessary container to address both problems simultaneously.

At Alternative to Meds Center, various protocols are used to alleviate each aspect of the situation so that health and wellness again is reached. If you are suffering from a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder situation, you likely require a specialized program where the center can specifically focus on all the various aspects of it. We can help find the right treatment.

At Alternative to Meds Center, co-occurring disorders treatments are individualized to meet the exact needs of the dually diagnosed so the program can be customized with services that match those individual needs. In this way, an individual can bridge over to a life of true independence. The many families that have used our services successfully form a wide net of support and are more than happy to share their experiences with interested families.

Originally Published Sep 13, 2018 by Lyle Murphy

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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