Types of Services that Help Treat Addiction and Mental Illness

Posted by | Co-Occurring Disorders & Mental Health, Treatment Programs | February 25, 2015

There are a number of ways to tend to the problems that arise out of addiction and mental illness. Certainly, when someone experiences the illness of addiction and/or a psychological illness, such as depression or anxiety, he or she is going to see the effects of that illness in their daily functioning. For instance, drinking too much might influence one’s work performance, ability to maintain a job, ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to enjoy life. Typically, if addiction or a mental illness is affecting a person’s ability to work, play, or love (have relationships with others), then that illness is worth seeking treatment for.

Yet, sadly, many people who experience such impacts to their life do not seek any sort of treatment. In fact, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 22.7 million Americans ages 12 and older needed treatment for drug and alcohol use in 2013. Yet, only 3 million people sought out the treatment they needed. This means that only a small fraction of those who need treatment, actually receive it.

However, there are many factors that get in the way of someone finally being able to receive treatment services. These include low income or poverty, the stigma of addiction and mental illness, fear of legal repudiation, not wanting to lose family members or relationships with those you love, and simply not wanting to give up the lifestyle of using drugs or alcohol.

But once someone recognizes the need to change their life and once the decision to seek treatment is made, there are many treatment options to choose from. The following is a brief list of the kind of support that someone can expect to find when they make the decision to get help.

Initial Assessment: In order for alcohol abuse treatment to be successful, it has to address the various factors in a person’s life that may be contributing to the continued use of alcohol or drugs. For instance, an assessment is often a self-report measurement of the nature and severity of symptoms. Based on your answers and when compared to a scale provided, an early diagnosis might be formulated.

Medical Detox: This is a period of time in which an individual with an alcohol addiction undergoes alcohol detox, that is allowing the body to go through a process of detoxification.

Psychotherapy: Individual therapy typically involves sitting across from a compassionate mental health professional, who is listening and responding to you. One effective form of alcohol addiction treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It essentially aims to change behavior by identifying negative and distorted thinking patterns. This successful form of therapy emphasizes the link between thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and more importantly, it attempts to identify the way that certain thoughts contribute to the unique problems of your life. By changing the thought pattern and by replacing it with thoughts that are aimed towards a specific therapeutic goal, you can slowly begin to change.

Family Therapy: This is a type of therapy that focuses on the systems and relationships within a family network. It aims to change the relationship within families in order to help them better manage the specific problems they might be facing.

Group Counseling: Group therapy includes the presence of a therapist, psychologist, social worker or other mental health professional who is facilitating the group experience. Also in the room are others who are all experiencing the same addiction or life problem. For instance, adults who were suffering from a mental illness in addition to their alcohol abuse might make up a group in therapy.

Medication: There are various forms of medication available for addiction treatment and they can be used for different reasons. Primarily, however, medication is used to help manage the symptoms of the withdrawal process or to facilitate safely weaning off a drug.

Support Groups: Groups on healthy eating, decision making, job hunting,  and more may facilitate creating a new life after addiction.

Chemical Dependency Education: This an opportunity to learn about the nature of addiction and it’s dangerous cycle. Staying informed about alcohol abuse, addiction, and treatment can facilitate your path towards sobriety.

This is a long list of options that a person struggling with an addiction and/or a mental illness can choose from. Even if he or she started with one of the above, it’s a start toward healing and wellness.

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