Integrated Treatment Approach: Newer and Better

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Integrated Treatment: Newer and Better

Nobody’s grandma or grandpa, until later in life, ever had access to a single treatment plan for co-occurring addictive and mental disorders. Utilization of dual therapy is damn modern — really just a smidge older than public internet use.

For the psychiatric researchers whose staunch work throughout the 1980s proved the dual therapy approach enhances treatment success, possibly it could have felt like being the first to come upon buried treasure. If they were self-fulfilled, that’s neat. Yet how’s this for a trophy: too many lives to count that have since either experienced a drastic improvement in quality or were saved from addiction-induced death.

“When we don’t treat addictive and mental disorders together, these people tend to drop out of treatment,” said Mark McGovern, professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. “Their mental health symptoms are more likely to worsen, and over time it may actually increase their use of drugs and alcohol.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly one in five persons with a mental illness also met the criteria for a substance use disorder.

The innovation of dual therapy in the 1990s and the way treatment specialists were marveling at how well it was reconstructing patients’ total health was so good that Northbound (founded in 1988) quickly adapted the approach in our own programs.

Every client here undergoes a psychiatric evaluation upon admission and continues to receive psychiatric care as needed throughout their treatment. Many clients are recommended for short-term medication protocols to safely detox their bodies from the substances they have been abusing. Some clients also benefit from longer-term psychotropic medications to help stabilize their mental health symptoms and therefore allow for the deep work of recovery to begin.

The implementation of the dual therapy approach has been a substantial vehicle for the growth of Northbound to our current capacity for staff and patients. Though far from the only treatment center to practice dual therapy, Northbound takes pride in its capability to offer clients the integration service.

Dr. McGovern, based at the Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center (which specializes in the design, development, testing and dissemination of evidence-based treatments for persons with co-occurring disorders), has said the difficulties for providing patients the range that dual therapy demands are significant.

“Perseverance (among treatment centers) is needed to guarantee the availability of integrated services to those who need them most,” McGovern told research outlet Homeless Hub in 2010.

In the mid-1980s, patients began to receive diagnoses for dual disorders but received treatment for either the mental health or substance-related disorder. The low success rates for those patients prompted the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Drug Abuse and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, and Alcoholism to make their first recommendations for the integration treatment for mental health and substance-related disorders.

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