What to Look for in a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facility

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Last Updated - 08/10/2023

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Updated 08/10/2023

Co-occurring disorders. Dual diagnosis. Co-morbidity. The condition goes by a variety of names, but the situations all involve two disorders: a mental health disorder and an addictive disorder.

This is not an infrequent occurrence. According to a recent study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), about 8 million adults in the U.S. received such a diagnosis. Such diagnoses may combine a mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) with an addictive disorder such as alcoholism or drug abuse. 

It is unclear if the mental health disorder causes the addictive disorder or if the causality is reversed. However, it results in observable symptoms that have close relations with coping mechanisms and negative patterns. Often these thought-patterns and detrimental activities are engaged as a form of self-medication.

Help can be offered in such difficult situations, however. Here’s what you need to do when choosing a dual diagnosis treatment facility:

Assess the situation.

Look for which facilities specialize in the two disorders occurring in your situation. Look for psychological and behavioral assessments that they offer. Utilizing these assessments will let you know how severe your situation is and will help you further specify which facility specializations would, thus, be beneficial.

Determine medicinal needs.

Look for how the dual diagnosis treatment facility utilizes medications. What specific medications do they offer? Is medication going to be effective in your situation? In situations involving alcohol, medication can be prescribed to lessen the withdrawal symptoms, to inflict a negative response when drinking, and to curb any cravings. Medication is also used in drug situations to lessen the withdrawal. With a variety of mood disorders, antidepressants or mood stabilizers may be employed. How long is the medication prescribed at each facility you’re considering? Is the medicine used as a short-term aid or given for long-term benefit?

Evaluate treatment facility options.

Look for the various options the facility offers. What type of recovery options does it maintain? Does it have both inpatient and outpatient treatment options? What are the time increments offered for the variety of care options? Does it maintain recovery groups or offer individual counseling services?

Evaluate treatment professionals.

Look into the treatment professionals’ credentials to see what experience they’ve had in the fields of your situation’s disorders. Often, the best treatment is found when multiple professionals specializing in each field are involved. A team of medical and psychological professionals can often provide the most holistic and effective care.

Analyze alternative recovery therapies.

Look for which alternative recovery therapies are offered in addition to the traditional treatment options. Does the facility utilize art therapy? Do they offer music therapy? What about recreational therapy or acupuncture? In some cases, nutrition is an issue, and nutritional recovery plans can be of great benefit. Additionally, exercise can promote mental health. Does the facility incorporate physical accommodations?

Consider skills development.

Look for what long-term skill development the treatment facility may offer. This is helpful because it can indicate that the care will be holistic. Not only will the immediate issues be addressed but equipping for long-term success will be emphasized. Skills development is not always explicitly offered, and analyzing each treatment facility’s structure can help you simply make an informed decision about if the facility’s approach is generally short or long-term focused.

Check for after-care requirements.

Look for any requirements facilities espouse after the traditional treatment is completed. Not all facilities have such after-care policies in place, but they can alter the duration of the care. It’s helpful to know how such plans might influence the care in your situation.

Read reviews.

Look for licensing of the treatment facility and read reviews of others’ experience with the facility. Phone calls to the facilities, themselves, to inquire about their practices can also better help you determine if the facility is the best fit for your situation.

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