How We Treat Co-Occurring Disorders

When someone comes to our center for treatment, their substance use is just one piece of the puzzle. Many factors contribute to chemical dependency, including a person’s environment, lifestyle and relationships. Above all of these, the most important area to consider when treating an addiction is the patient’s mental health. To address substance use disorder, co-occurring disorders must be treated.

Conditions like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder make people more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol. This relationship goes both ways – people under the influence are more likely to develop symptoms of mental illness. That’s why Cumberland Heights places special emphasis on the treatment of co-occurring disorders.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders are commonplace among those dealing with substance use disorder. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that 9.2 million American adults suffer from both mental illness and addiction.

According to SAMHSA, the most common co-occurring disorders are:

  • Anxiety and mood disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder (types I and II)
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Conduct disorders (among young patients)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder)

In order to help patients overcome substance abuse and mental illness, a special path to recovery is required. Accredited organizations like Cumberland Heights offer dual diagnosis programs for this express purpose. For maximum impact, our clinicians treat both conditions simultaneously. Treatment is tailored to each patient’s unique needs – the combination of therapeutic approaches varies from person to person.

Here are a few of the techniques we use to help patients dealing with co-occurring disorders.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational interviewing is a therapeutic approach developed expressly for alcoholics. Research has demonstrated its effectiveness for those struggling with all manner of mental illnesses, meaning that this therapy offers unique benefits for people with co-occurring disorders. The most up-to-date definition of motivational interviewing is “a collaborative, person-centered form of guiding to elicit and strengthen motivation for change.”

When someone has both an addiction and a condition like depression, they may feel hopeless about the idea of changing. This can result in an overall ambivalence (perhaps better described as a lack of motivation). Motivational interviewing sessions help patients to identify their problems, establish the desire to change, believe in their own abilities and begin to take steps towards a better future.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is perhaps the most widely known form of talk therapy. Through this approach, patients identify unhelpful patterns of thinking and behavior. They learn to recognize cognitive distortions like black-and-white thinking or minimization, which contribute to their unhappiness. This lays the foundation for improved self-esteem, new problem-solving skills and permanent behavioral change for patients with co-occurring disorders.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

Experts developed emotionally focused therapy in tandem with research on attachment theory. This modality prioritizes a person’s feelings and emotional regulation as the bedrock of their relationships and individual experience. It is especially helpful in incidences of couples therapy, the re-establishment of family bonds and the treatment of individuals. Participants in this program will learn to reshape their interactions with loved ones, their inner dialogue and their own motivations.

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Solution-focused brief therapy was developed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the 1970s. It is a “future-focused, goal-directed” program that places an emphasis on solutions, rather than on the problems driving a person to seek treatment. This can be a crucial lifeline for those with depression and other co-occurring disorders.

Through a combination of positive psychology principles, SFBT practitioners work with clients to find solutions to their current problems. When paired with other problem-driven modalities, this approach offers a clear path to recovery for residents of Cumberland Heights. SFBT is especially helpful for patients asking, “What’s next?”

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

This modality can benefit anyone with a severe mental illness or substance use disorder. It is seen as the gold standard for those exhibiting self-destructive behaviors. As a subtype of cognitive behavioral therapy, DBT prioritizes traditional talk therapy techniques – with a twist. Through individual therapy, skills groups and homework, dialectical behavioral therapy patients track their emotions, identify problematic patterns and develop healthy coping mechanisms. DBT addresses a person’s mood, self-image, behavior, thought patterns and relationships with others.

12-Step Facilitation

The final modality offered at Cumberland Heights is 12-Step programming. This time-honored tradition provides the support that a person with addiction and co-occurring disorders needs to recover.

In the setting of a 12-Step meeting, individuals can hear from those with weeks, months or years of sobriety. They will talk about their challenges and receive input from others. Finally, they will learn that connection is a requirement for sustained recovery.

We are proud to provide these services at our primary Tennessee treatment center, as well as at a purely 12-Step-focused program: Still Waters.

Effective Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Tennessee

The best thing about our approach is its effectiveness. Our research team has analyzed the outcomes of all Cumberland Heights patients who passed through our doors in 2020. Of these, many saw a reduction in their depression and anxiety symptoms. Specifically:

  • On average, patients reported a 74.4% decrease in depression symptoms.
  • On average, patients reported a 67.75% decrease in anxiety symptoms.

Cumberland Heights provides outstanding, trendsetting treatment throughout the state of Tennessee. Our dedicated clinicians offer the therapeutic support you need to get well. To learn more about our services, contact our admissions team. We look forward to speaking with you.