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Most People Who Enter Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Have Co-Occurring Disorders

Posted on: September 13th, 2019 by

Substance abuse and mental illness

It has been clinically proven that most people who enter residential substance abuse treatment have co-occurring disorders. A co-occurring disorder, also known as a dual diagnosis, is a term for someone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness who also experiences a substance abuse disorder simultaneously. There are no specific guidelines as to which disorder develops first, and researchers have found that every case is different. However, one fact remains the same: people experiencing a mental health condition often turn to alcohol or drugs to self medicate. Studies show that alcohol and illicit drugs worsen the symptoms of mental illness.

How Common are Co-Occurring Disorders?

According to a national study on drug use, about 8 million people in the United States experience both a mental disorder and a substance abuse disorder at the same time. More than half of those people are men. Some signs and symptoms of substance abuse include withdrawal from friends and family, unanticipated changes in behavior, engaging in risky actions and financial difficulties. Some of the exhaustive signs and symptoms of a mental health condition can also vary greatly. These can include extreme changes in mood or behavior, confusion, thoughts of suicide, and difficulty concentrating. People with either a single or co-occurring disorder may be unwilling to seek help.

How Can Co-Occurring Disorders Be Treated?

The most effective treatment for dual diagnosis is integrated intervention, or when someone gets treated for both illnesses concurrently. Studies have shown when a person receives care for both their diagnosed mental illness and substance abuse at the same time they respond to treatment better. The days of “I cannot treat your bipolar disorder because you are on Heroin” are over. Current methods require both issues to be addressed in tandem.

The patient and the treatment provider should discuss how each condition affects the other for the treatment to be successful and effective. Although plans are tailored to each individual, there are common methods that are used as part of every treatment plan. Here are 2 examples from a list of countless methods:


The first major hurdle that every person with a co-occurring diagnosis must face is detoxification. Inpatient detox is largely more effective for both continued sobriety and patient safety. During inpatient detox, trained staff monitors the individual constantly for up to a week. The medical staff may give the patient tapering amounts of a medical alternative or substance to wean a person off the illicit drug. Typically this lessens the effects of withdrawal slightly.

Inpatient Rehabilitation

If someone is experiencing mental illness and is also showing signs of a dangerous substance abuse pattern, their best bet may be an inpatient rehab center. There, they can receive support and medical attention 24 hours a day.  These treatment centers provide therapy, supply medication, and administer health services to treat substance abuse disorders and their underlying causes.

Dealing with a co-occurring disorder can feel isolating and difficult. A support group can allow members to share frustrations and successes, receive recovery tips, find referrals for specialists, community resources, or centers, or just find people who feel like they know what you are going through. They also provide a space for forming healthy relationships filled with encouragement to stay clean and to stay happy and healthy.

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Pacific Ridge is a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility about an hour from Portland, Oregon, on the outskirts of Salem. We’re here to help individuals and families begin the road to recovery from addiction. Our clients receive quality care without paying the high price of a hospital. Most of our clients come from Oregon and Washington, with many coming from other states as well.

Pacific Ridge is a private alcohol and drug rehab. To be a part of our treatment program, the client must voluntarily agree to cooperate with treatment. Most intakes can be scheduled within 24-48 hours.

Pacific Ridge is a State-licensed detox and residential treatment program for both alcohol and drugs. We provide individualized treatment options, work closely with managed care organizations, and maintain contracts with most insurance companies.