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What is the Best Treatment for Dual Diagnosis?

best dual diagnosis treatment center

Dual diagnosis currently affects more than 17 million adults (over age 18) in the United States. This means that nearly seven percent of all American adults struggle with a mental illness and a substance use disorder. These statistics do not include youth, who are increasingly affected by mental health and substance use disorders. If you have a loved one struggling with dual diagnosis, you are not alone.

Dual diagnosis is an older, broad clinical term used to describe co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. Now called co-occurring disorders (CODs), these illnesses are usually simultaneous, affecting the same person and overlapping areas of the brain. As a result, this diagnosis can be quite complex, and in turn requires a specialized, integrated treatment approach. Dual diagnosis treatment requires that professionals address the person’s psychological and substance use disorders at the same time, in the same place.

If you are seeking professional help for your loved one, you may be wondering, “What is the best dual diagnosis treatment out there?” Of course, you want to choose a program that will work and that will set your loved one up for a successful recovery. So, what does that program look like? As a dual diagnosis treatment provider, Turnbridge has compiled a list of the key principles you will find at the best dual diagnosis treatment programs today.

The Best Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs Will…

  1. Take an integrated approach to dual diagnosis treatment.

This may seem like an obvious quality to look for in treatment, but it is an important one: The best dual diagnosis treatment programs will take into consideration all aspects of a person’s health – including mental health, physical health, and emotional wellbeing – and develop an integrated approach to their treatment. Integrated treatment means that clients have full access to the services and resources they need to be treated for all of their conditions. The best dual diagnosis treatment centers will deliver these resources in the same place, during the same treatment duration, using a unified approach.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “With integrated care, a more complete recovery is possible.” Experts also state that integrated dual diagnosis treatment can improve quality of life for those with co-occurring disorders, including:

  • Reduced or discontinued substance use
  • Improvement in psychiatric functioning
  • Increased chance for a successful recovery from both disorders
  • Decreased hospitalization
  • Reduced medication needs
  • Increased stability in one’s home life
  1. Individualize each treatment plan based on each client’s needs.

Treatment for co-occurring disorders must always take into consideration all the needs of an individual. Further, the professionals must use this information to develop an individualized treatment plan for each client in need. Dual diagnosis treatment can never be one-size-fits-all. The best dual diagnosis treatment centers will assess one’s mental, physical, emotional, social, and even legal needs. They will take into consideration whether an individual is in the workforce, or in school, as well as gender-specific experiences to create a tailored treatment plan that can bring stability and health back to a person’s life. 

Additionally, the best programs will ensure that clients have access to multiple treatment formats, such as individual, group, family, and peer support, as they move through the stages of treatment. This will ensure that they are exposed to all methods and are able to find an approach that works well for them. 

  1. Utilize a phased approach to treatment.

In SAMHSA’s recent TIP 42, experts suggest updated approaches to treatment for co-occurring disorders. One recommendation is that dual diagnosis professionals used a phased approach to treatment. Using a phased approach means that treatment is gradual, starting with engagement and growing into active treatment and eventually continuing care. It allows clients to work through specific steps in the recovery process, accomplish progress goals along the way, and navigate recovery at a pace that meets their individual needs. By using a phased approach to dual diagnosis treatment, clinicians can also better optimize care and ensure clients are getting the most out of their treatment program.

At Turnbridge, we’ve long used a phased approach to dual diagnosis treatment, in which clients work through three stages of their treatment journey. This structure allows them to develop the skills, mentality, trust, and self-love needed to overcome their disorders and move forward into a full, purposeful, and healthy life after treatment.

  1. Offer a residential treatment option to start the recovery process.

While every person and case is unique, residential treatment is most often recommended for those battling a dual diagnosis. As noted above, co-occurring disorders are complex. They affect the functioning of the brain and, in turn, a person’s behaviors, attitudes, and thought patterns. Those struggling with co-occurring disorders can benefit from a residential setting where they can focus fully on their healing, without distraction or pressure. 

Residential dual diagnosis treatment centers offer 24/7 watchful care and support staff who can be there at a moment’s call. They support a community of peers walking in similar shoes. They also offer an array of integrated therapies and services for clients, including counseling, group therapy, recreational activities, 12-step meetings, academic and vocational support, and more—all designed to help an individual reach their full potential. In addition, residential treatment enacts structure for clients, encouraging them to follow a daily regimen that involves a mix of meetings, counseling, experiential therapies, nutritious meals, exercise blocks, social activities, and more.

A residential or inpatient setting provides a drug-free, safe, and secure place to live while in early recovery. The environments are often very calming and designed to encourage beauty, confidence, creativity, and comfort in clients. At Turnbridge, our residences are a peaceful, positive, and supportive place where clients can retreat. They can also feel physically and mentally safe, in a protected setting with a community of sober friends and staff.

According to SAMHSA, “Residential treatment for CODs is linked to improved SUD outcomes (e.g., illicit drug and alcohol use), mental disorder symptoms, quality of life, and social/community functioning, even if treatment is not integrated,” underlining its effectiveness.

  1. Have trained staff who specialize in dual diagnosis.

Not every drug rehab center offers dual diagnosis treatment, and this is an important distinction to make when seeking treatment for a loved one. You will want to ensure that the program you choose is staffed with clinical providers and counselors who have been trained in dual diagnosis treatment. These individuals have studied the causal and bidirectional effects of co-occurring disorders, and understand the evidence-based methods needed to treat each unique illness. Furthermore, these individuals are continuously learning and growing their knowledge on dual diagnosis, and may be cross-trained in various fields relating to co-occurring disorders.

  1. Enact evidence-based methods for dual diagnosis treatment.

Speaking of evidence-based methods, this is another quality that only the best treatment centers will enact as part of their integrated programs. According to SAMHSA, “Integration of evidence-based care into COD programming increases the chances of clients receiving effective therapies that improve their odds of lifelong recovery.” In other words, evidence-based therapies are essential for success. Although different therapies will work differently for each individual, evidence-based methods are ones that research has proven to be effective in treating individuals with co-occurring disorders. Evidence-based treatment can include cognitive interventions like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Dialectical Behavior Therapy, as well as pharmacotherapies, psychosocial interventions, and motivational techniques to help clients reach their goals.

  1. Offer extended care programs for those in recovery.

As SAMHSA explains in TIP 42, Substance Use Disorder Treatment for People With Co-Occurring Disorders, co-occurring disorders “can wax and wane over time.” As a result, treatment should take into consideration how clients can best maintain and extend their recovery outcomes, even after graduation from the treatment program. Both substance use disorders and mental health disorders are long-term conditions, so it is important that clients are set up for success for the long-haul. The right dual diagnosis program will ensure a proper integration from treatment to mainstream life, helping ensure schooling or employment, safe and sober housing, health care and counseling, and more post-treatment. 

Additionally, programs should offer an extension of care through an outpatient program, in which clients can continue to receive counseling, attend meetings or group therapy, and be held accountable while continuing to work towards their long-term recovery goals. As stated by SAMHSA, “Clients with CODs often require long-term continuity of care that supports their progress, monitors their condition, and can respond to a return to substance use or a return of symptoms of mental disorder.” 

Find the Best Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program for Your Loved One 

There are many great dual diagnosis treatment centers out there. And, while there are many qualities that indicate top-notch dual diagnosis treatment, there is no one, single definition of the “best” type of treatment for dual diagnosis. The best treatment will depend on each individual’s own conditions and needs at this time. If you’d like advice from a treatment professional on the best dual diagnosis treatment approach for your loved one, you can always reach out to Turnbridge. Turnbridge is a recognized mental health and addiction treatment program for teens and young adults. Contact us at 877-581-1793 today to speak with a professional.