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What is IDDT Treatment?

integrated dual diagnosis therapy

IDDT stands for “integrated dual diagnosis treatment.” It is an evidence-based model of therapy for those struggling with co-occurring substance use disorders and mental illness. Learn more about IDDT therapy below.

Mental health is a very real, yet often delicate topic. Many people struggling with mental illness are scared to get the help they need, out of shame or fear of what others might think. Some of these individuals do not know how to effectively cope and turn to drugs or alcohol to feel “better,” at least temporarily. This can begin a dangerous cycle of substance abuse and worsened mental health.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health condition and/or substance abuse, know that you are not alone. It is estimated that more than 17 million adults in America are battling both a substance use disorder and a mental illness. Of these individuals, over five million have a serious mental illness. This number does not include the adolescents also impacted by these co-occurring conditions.

When a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder coexist—meaning a person is battling both conditions simultaneously—it is described as “co-occurring disorders” (COD). Co-occurring disorders may also be referred to as dual diagnosis

Co-occurring disorders are very complex. As stated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), they present significant clinical, functional, social, and economical challenges for those struggling, as well as for the clinicians who treat them. Therefore, co-occurring disorders require highly comprehensive treatment—treatment that takes an integrated approach, treating the full range of symptoms that clients are experiencing, mentally and physically. Not all treatment centers offer specialized, integrated dual diagnosis treatment (IDDT).

What is Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Integrated dual diagnosis treatment, or IDDT, is an evidence-based, unified approach to treating substance addiction, mental health disorders, and related needs. It involves combining the different therapeutic techniques for mental illness, with the specific treatment strategies for substance use disorders, into a comprehensive program that treats the entire person and their various struggles. IDDT is not limited to treating just one disorder or one problem at a time. It treats them all in one place, in one program, using the same team of clinicians. In other words, clinicians combine the interventions to create one, comprehensive plan of care.

According to SAMHSA, integrated treatment is the “preferred model of treatment” for co-occurring disorders. 

IDDT treatment uses integrated models (as opposed to parallel methods) for the assessment, intervention, and recovery of co-occurring disorders. Evidence now shows that parallel treatment modalities, or separate approaches to each individual disorder, are not effective for long-term recovery. An individual needs to recover from all disorders, both substance use and mental health related, in order to find lasting health and success. Integrated dual diagnosis treatment is designed to do just this, by setting cohesive and sequenced goals for the recovery process. 

The Principles of Integrated Dual Diagnosis Therapy

In 2020, a year in which the world started to recognize a rising concern in mental health conditions, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration updated their publication on co-occurring disorders. Specifically, they set new principles and expectations for integrated dual diagnosis treatment. In order to effectively treat co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, SAMHSA underlined the following principles as necessary components of a recovery program:

  • Substance use disorders and mental illness must be treated concurrently, to meet clients’ full range of symptoms and needs.
  • Integrated dual diagnosis treatment providers should always receive specialized training for this level of care. Treating co-occurring disorders is highly complex, so it is important that providers are fully prepared and knowledgeable of both SUD and mental health treatment.
  • This integrated treatment must be carried out in a staged approach, that is tailored to each individual’s needs and readiness for treatment. For example, not all adolescents and young adults are willing to accept help. As they work through treatment and engage in their recovery, they can advance to the next stages of treatment.
  • IDDT therapy involves motivational techniques, such as motivational interviewing and counseling, to help clients reach their goals. This is particularly beneficial for adolescents and young adults who are more resistant to engaging in their treatment program.
  • IDDT also enacts addiction counseling, in effort to help clients develop healthier thought patterns and behaviors, as well as become more adaptive to the recovery process.
  • However, IDDT should also be adaptable and personalized to each client’s needs. Multiple treatment modalities are encouraged in a dual diagnosis program. This includes individual, group, family, and peer-to-peer counseling, as well as different evidence-based therapies.
  • Pharmacotherapy is also discussed as an option for needing clients. Safety, adherence, and response should be monitored closely by clinicians.

The Benefits of Integrated Dual Diagnosis Therapy

Dual diagnosis, now called co-occurring disorders, can be very complex. Mental health disorders and substance use disorders affect similar areas of the brain, and while they exist independently, can exacerbate one another’s symptoms. A person may suffer from one or more mental health disorders, or one or more substance use disorder. For example, many people struggling with alcohol abuse also struggle with anxiety and depression. A person struggling with a prescription drug addiction also battle post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts. Many people battle multiple drug dependencies, ranging from alcohol to OxyContin to heroin.

Every person’s story is unique. Their individual drugs of choice, mental health conditions, and needs in treatment will also vary tremendously. This requires advanced and specialized IDDT treatment.

Integrated dual diagnosis treatment is a comprehensive, consistent, and seamless approach to treating highly complex conditions. It enables clinical teams to work together to understand the symptoms and implications of each disorder separately, as well as the causal effects of co-occurring disorders together, and develop a plan for recovery. In this sense, recovery implies that the client is able to effectively manage both their substance use and mental health disorders, and take back control of their life. 

You see, dual diagnosis often gets in the way of one’s functional abilities and desire to carry out what seem like normal daily tasks. Many people struggle to get out of bed, to take care of their personal hygiene, and to find a desire to keep going. Many do not have the energy to go to work or to school, or do not have the capacity to socialize with others. The goal of IDDT treatment is to bring them back to a satisfactory, productive, healthy, and comfortable state of living.

This is possible. Co-occurring disorders may be chronic, but they are also very treatable and manageable disorders. According to recent studies on the effectiveness of IDDT, integrated approaches to treatment are more likely to have a positive impact on individuals’:

  • Level of substance use
  • Psychiatric symptoms
  • Housing situation
  • Hospitalization
  • Legal troubles
  • Functional status
  • Quality of life

Non-integrated treatment programs, by contrast, have poor outcomes in the above areas. The components of IDDT programs that have been found to be most effective include:

  • Staged or phased interventions
  • Motivational interventions
  • Counseling and evidence-based therapies
  • Social support interventions
  • Long-term perspective and relapse prevention
  • Cultural competency and sensitivity
  • Comprehensiveness in helping to improve all aspects of a person’s life

This same report also expresses that, while IDDT programs are highly effective, they are not always enacted in treatment facilities. Many mental health treatment centers are not specialized in addiction treatment. Similarly, not all drug rehab programs are not equipped to treat co-occurring mental health conditions. Therefore, it is important to seek a treatment facility where integrated methods – and a strong foundation in mental health and addiction treatment – are at the heart of their offering. 

If you are seeking IDDT treatment for your loved one, you can reach out to Turnbridge for guidance. Turnbridge is a recognized treatment provider for youth struggling with mental health disorders, substance use disorders, and dual diagnosis. We are here to listen to your needs and help you find support. Learn about our dual diagnosis treatment online, or call 877-581-1793 to learn more.