Pairing Co-Occurring Disorders with a Holistic Approach: Paths Towards Recovery

Pairing Co-Occurring Disorders with a Holistic Approach: Paths Towards Recovery

PCo-occurring disorders (also called dual diagnoses) are defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as the coexistence of both a mental illness and a substance use disorder (SUD). Previous research estimates that nearly 7.9 million people had co-occurring disorders in 2014, with many people not receiving appropriate treatment for their conditions. Not only are many comprehensive services neglected at treatment centers, causing misdiagnoses to occur more regularly, but many treatment centers do not provide specialized services to treat co-occurring disorders.

Having both a mental illness and a SUD can have biological, psychological, and social implications, which is why it’s become increasingly important to assess and provide services to help a person rejuvenate their mind, body, and spirit.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Some of the most common co-occurring disorders are:

–       Cocaine and anxiety disorders

–       Opioids and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

–       Marijuana and schizophrenia

–       Alcoholism and antisocial personality disorder

A common question is whether mental illness can cause SUDs, or whether SUDs can cause mental illness. We’ve found over the years that either can happen – it truly depends on a number of factors related to that individual. Some of these factors might include that person’s family history of substance abuse and/or mental illness, personal health history, age of onset, severity of symptoms, and more.

Some symptoms can overlap between two disorders, which can really amplify a person’s stress and make it difficult to pinpoint exactly which disorder is causing these concerns. By treating the mind, body, and spirit, a healthcare team has a much better chance at helping a person finding healing and rejuvenation as a whole.

Incorporating A Holistic Treatment Approach

In the United States, traditional medicine has been the focus of addiction recovery, and it’s obvious that medical services are much-needed and are highly beneficial for helping treat injuries, health conditions, detoxification, withdrawal symptoms, mental health issues, recovery maintenance and more. Over the years, however, this notion of mind, body, and spirit has really taken affect in the form of holistic treatment (also known as alternative treatment). Forms of holistic treatment modalities may include yoga, meditation, art therapy, nutrition management, exercise, neurofeedback, acupuncture, and more.

The holistic approach takes into account not only the physical needs of a person, but what their mental health and spirituality aspect of themselves may need in order to thrive. Considered a very caring approach, holistic treatment asks questions about many aspects of life – such as sleeping habits, relationships, workplace success, and more. It’s not something often considered, but all of these seemingly minor areas of our lives add up to create an immense influence on our happiness and health.

By integrating both traditional and holistic forms of treatment, doors become much more open to trying different techniques to create a truly customized experience for the client. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) further emphasizes that residential treatment programs may be of great benefit to those with co-occurring disorders, as the structure and 24/7 support offered can help individuals maintain stability in recovery while also in the comfort of the “home away from home”.

The Recovery Experience

The journey to recovery varies depending on the person, but many people with co-occurring disorders have special concerns that should be addressed. If you believe you may have a co-occurring disorder but are hesitant to move forward with treatment, you may benefit from learning from others’ experiences in recovery.

A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction sought to uncover perspectives of recovery from those with co-occurring disorders. Twenty-four participants in housing programs were involved in the study, including staff members’ views as well. Interviews were conducted, and some major themes emerged:

Recovery is a unique and personal experience – participants understood that each person’s journey through recovery is different, and these differences were respected.

Stability is needed in order for individuals to move forward – financial stability, housing, medication assistance and more were noted as vital areas of stability that really helped participants find strength in recovery. Once individual stated, “I think there’s different areas of recovery and the…program has taken me from a place where it was a non-stable area in my life to where it’s a very stable area, in all of those areas.”

Recovery is a process – at first, some participants viewed recovery as an outcome; over time, however, their views changed into it being more of a process. Recovery is considered a lifelong journey with ups and downs, just like life does. The goal is to always keep trying.

The path to recovery is not linear – although participants noted that growth was the ultimate outcome, they understood that relapse may be part of the journey as well.

Moving Forward in Recovery

Holistic treatment truly paves a new way for those with co-occurring disorders to seek guidance and support. Combined with traditional medicine, a more customized treatment plan may be available. If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center today. The time to rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit is now.

The mission of The Beach House is to provide success in the recovery process and elevate the standard of comprehensive addiction treatment. Located right on the coast of Malibu, California, expert clinical care and a holistic view of the recovery process is provided to ensure Best-in-Class treatment tailored to the needs of each client. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey today, call us at 310-924-0780.

Saving Lives; Healing Families.


Kimberly James

I am the founder and owner of The Beach House Treatment Center, The White House, Indigo Ranch, Sweetwater Mesa and Beach House Center for Wellness, all in Malibu, California.