A Discussion About Co-occurring Disorders

A Discussion About Co-occurring Disorders

Through the extensive work our founders and staff members have done through the years, we have acquired a thorough understanding of what drives most people's addiction issues. In fact, it's mental health issues that seem to cause a great number of people to seek refuge in substance abuse. When there is a causational relationship between a client's addiction and possible mental health issues, we refer to that client as having co-occurring disorders.

We want to be very clear about two things. First, it's very possible for a client to suffer from a mental illness that is not tied in any way to their addiction. In such a case, we would not diagnose the client as having co-occurring disorders. Our therapists could still work with such a client on their mental health issue or issues, but treatment would focus mostly on their addiction.

Second, not all clients are aware that they are suffering from a mental health issue. It's amazing just how many clients will enter our IOP with no knowledge they suffer from mental health issues like PTSD, depression, and anxiety. While treating them for their addiction issues, our therapists will sometimes come to realize they are dealing with a client who has co-occurring disorders. When this happens, the therapist in charge will have to immediately shift treatment gears towards "Dual Diagnosis Therapy."

What is Dual Diagnosis Therapy?

When a client gets a diagnosis of co-occurring disorders, there is clearly a relationship between their addiction and their mental health issues. That can work both ways. Some clients have turned to substance abuse as a way of coping with their mental health issues. Going in the other direction, other clients will incur mental health issues because of their substance abuse. Regardless of how the client's co-occurring disorders came to be, the recommended treatment process would be Dual Diagnosis Therapy.

In a Dual Diagnosis Therapy treatment model, it's mandatory that the client gets treatment for all disorders simultaneously. Why? Because of the causation factor, both issues need resolution at the same time. If this doesn't happen, the untreated disorder would very likely interfere with the addiction recovery process. Let us cite an example.


Client A enters our Studio 64 Recovery IOP. During the intake process, they inform our administrator that they have been diagnosed with Bipolar I. We further see evidence that their Bipolar disorder directly led to their addiction. If we proceeded to only treat their addiction, there would likely come a time when the Bipolar disorder would lead the client right back to substance abuse. In a lot of cases, that would be the unavoidable consequence of not treating the co-occurring disorders at the same time.

Managing the Dual Diagnosis Therapy Process

For our staff at Studio 64 Recovery, clients with co-occurring disorders create an interesting challenge. Since they need two very different kinds of therapy at the same time, we have to come up with the resources for providing these different kinds of therapy.

In addressing this need, we have a few options. If by chance one of our addiction treatment specialists at the time is licensed to treat mental health issues, they will be well suited to handle the entire Dual Diagnosis Therapy process for a client on their own. If we don't have a therapist who is licensed to treat both disorders, we will assign a staff psychologist to focus on the mental health treatment.

Will Dual Diagnosis Therapy Work as Part of an IOP?

While including Dual Diagnosis Therapy within the boundaries of an IOP offers challenges, it's something we can definitely manage. We have a strong team of therapists who have the licensing required to provide both addiction and mental health treatment.

For the client, it might end up requiring them to spend more time in our treatment facility. They would in fact be working on several serious problems at the same time. They would in turn need to invest whatever time would be required to get through all of their relevant issues.

Our directive is very clear. We must do whatever we have to in order to make sure our clients finish our IOP with an excellent chance of maintaining their recovery. Anything less than that is not acceptable to us. If that means we need to address the element of mental health issues, that is exactly what we will do.

Develop social and vocational skills

During an IOP level of care, you will attend therapy, groups, and other courses specifically designed for the betterment of your future.

Meet supportive peers

A typical day at our IOP is a mix of unique therapies, learning good social skills, experiences to strengthen your innate talents, help finding work, and support groups of staff and peers all fighting the same battle as you.

Learn to maintain sobriety

Studio 64 Recovery's Intensive Outpatient Program allows you to maintain a more normal daily routine, while helping you go from active addiction to building a fulfilling life during your long-term recovery.
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