What Is Integrated Treatment?

man sitting on bed in dark room with hands on his head

In the early days of substance abuse treatment, the focus was on detox and “getting clean,” to the exclusion of almost everything else. As the field of addiction treatment has grown, professionals have come to understand that substance abuse is about much more than a chemical addiction. For lasting success, you need to treat the whole person.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is just one organization that supports integrated treatment for co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders. “With integrated treatment, you can address mental and substance use conditions at the same time, often lowering costs and creating better outcomes,” the organization suggests.

Integrated treatment is a dual diagnosis approach that has delivered proven results and is the key to successful long-term recovery. The terms “dual diagnosis” or “co-occurring” may be new to you, but there’s nothing mysterious about these methods. They simply refer to treating substance abuse and mental health issues simultaneously.

A staggeringly high percentage of those dealing with addiction issues are also struggling with a co-occurring mental health issues like depression, trauma or bipolar disorder. Co-occurring disorders affect more than 10 million Americans each year, and research and practice have proven that people are much more likely to achieve and maintain a high quality of life if both issues are treated simultaneously.

“Integrated treatment produces better outcomes for individuals with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders,” SAMHSA adds. “Without integrated treatment, one or both disorders may not be addressed properly.” That’s why mental health and substance abuse authorities across the country are taking steps to integrate systems and services.

Why Mental Illness & Addiction Often Go Together

It can be surprising to find that a very high percentage of those seeking treatment for addiction are also suffering from a mental health disorder. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar, trauma and ADHD can all make someone more likely to battle addiction. Many people dealing with an emotional issue turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, either because they are unaware they have a mental illness, the problem has gone undiagnosed or they don’t like the medication prescribed for their condition and how it makes them feel. Experts and those in recovery can tell you, though, that these substances may quiet symptoms in the short term, but over time they only exacerbate the mental health issues. They never heal them. And once the individual becomes addicted, they now have two health problems to address, thus the term “dual diagnosis.”

It’s precisely because this problem is so prevalent that a dual diagnosis approach to treatment has become so popular. Any number of programs can be successful in ending abusive or addictive behavior for a period of time. But we know that only by addressing the underlying issues and getting to the root of the addiction – including looking at any contributing mental or emotional issues – can someone find truly lasting recovery.

In the past, substance abuse and mental health issues were treated separately without any connection. This outdated model was less than ideal. Today, integrated treatment is accepted as the best option for lasting sobriety, and the experts acknowledge that treating these issues together is key. It’s important to find a program that practices integrated treatment and has experience addressing addiction and mental health concerns concurrently.

Finding Help Now

At its heart, the integrated treatment model is about getting you – every part of you – the help you need to go on and live the life you were meant to live. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction and a co-occurring disorder, call us today at 800-533-5266. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can provide information on treatment programs, help with insurance and answer questions about the treatment process.