SAMHSA Recommends Treating Substance Abuse and Mental Illness Simultaneously

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends the most effective method of treating a co-occuring disorder of substance abuse and mental illness is to treat both conditions at the same time. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that about 50 percent of people suffering with severe mental health disorders are also affected with substance abuse. According to estimates from NAMI, 29 percent of people who receive a mental health illness diagnosis also abuse substances.  The definition of substance abuse is a harmful pattern of using any substance to altar one’s mood. Mental illness disorders are usually characterized by deregulation of thought, behavior or mood, as recognized by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition (DSM-5). Understanding Dual Diagnosis People suffering with a mental health disorder, combined with a drug or alcohol addiction, have what is referred to as a co-occurring disorder (dual diagnosis). Typical mental health disorders associated with co-occurring disorders include anxiety, mood, psychotic and personality disorders. There are non 12 step programs available at some treatment centers that treat both disorders at the same time, while many other facilities do not have staff available to accommodate both and do not accept patients with a dual diagnosis.    Each Disorder Has Its Own Symptoms Because each disorder has unique symptoms, the ability to interact and function in daily life may be challenging....

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