Co-occurring disorders (COD) are extraordinarily complex. To be effective, treatment programs and interventions must specifically target and treat both substance use and mental health disorders at the same time. The most effective treatment is an integrated model that includes psychiatric, psychological, and addiction treatment services. Integrated treatment leads to higher recovery success rates. Fully integrated interventions work at the same time, in the same place, using the same treatment team.
Complications in Thinking
Chronic drug and alcohol use and abuse can cause physiological and neurological damage. It can compromise intellectual functioning and reduce judgment, insight, reasoning, and processing ability. A client’s memory may be impaired and processing speed may be lowered. The ability to focus, concentrate and sustain attention may be diminished. Abstract reasoning is more difficult. Concrete and practical methods of processing material may be required.
Furthermore, withdrawal effects, sleep deprivation, chemical imbalance, ADHD, anxiety, depression, traumatic experiences, thought disorders, nutritional deficiencies, detoxification complications, and increased stress levels all further compromise a client’s reasoning abilities. This is not a harsh judgment, but rather a compassionate understanding of intervention requirements. Yet we’re asking someone with compromised cognitive abilities to change the way they think. For that to be possible, adjustments in treatment need to be made.
Good Resources are Necessary for Good Treatment
Journey to Recovery materials are all designed with these information processing difficulties in mind. The mental health worksheets and workbooks are cognitive behavioral (CBT) in theory, which requires the client to recognize past cognitive or thinking errors and create challenges for each thought distortion. Because the treatment of co-occurring disorders is exceedingly multifaceted, specialized resources are required. Our secret to working with the complications of COD was not to make the interventions more complex but rather make the interventions simpler. The materials we’ve developed and used in our treatment programs are fundamentally different from other curriculums.
Being Different Makes a Difference
Because thinking processes are temporarily reduced, we’ve created worksheets that are easier to comprehend, more concrete, more practical, more relevant, and generate more discussion: all in an attempt to bring doable mastery to recovery. Cognitive behavioral interventions are evidenced based and effective in the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. And in my opinion, specialized CBT interventions that are adjusted for the clients’ impaired processing abilities are even more effective, and more necessary. Targeting specific problems with the right resources, always yields the strongest recovery.
Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!