co-occurring substance use disorder treatment

Effective Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder Treatment at J. Flowers Health Institute

Read on to learn more about comprehensive and personalized co-occurring substance use disorder treatment at

J. Flowers Health Institute.

What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

A co-occurring disorder is when an individual has two or more disorders at the same time.1 These typically include mental health disorders and substance use disorders. Finding effective co-occurring substance use disorder treatment is imperative for holistic healing.

Examples of Co-Occurring Disorders

Someone diagnosed with depression may also have an alcohol use disorder, or a person might have bipolar disorder as well as an opioid use disorder. These are both examples of co-occurring disorders.
Co-occurring disorders can be difficult to diagnose and treat. This is because the symptoms of one disorder can often overlap or worsen the symptoms of the other. 

It can also be challenging to determine which symptoms are due to which disorder. This can make treatment planning complex.

What Does Treatment Usually Entail?

Effective co-occurring substance use disorder treatment often involves integrated intervention. This treatment approach can involve a combination of therapies, including:
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication
  • Support groups

Strategies for Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Co-occurring substance use disorder treatment requires an integrated approach. This approach addresses both mental health and substance use disorders together. 
Here are some specific strategies that are used:

Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment (IDDT)

This treatment model uses an integrated approach to treat both. IDDT is based on the principle that the two disorders are interrelated and should be treated together.2

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT includes medications used for the management and reduction of cravings and withdrawals.3 It is often used in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. This provides a holistic approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.


Co-occurring substance use disorder treatment often uses therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps individuals learn to manage their thoughts and behaviors. 

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) provides skills to manage emotions and decrease relationship conflicts. Also, motivational interviewing (MI) is often utilized to build motivation for change.

Peer Support/Support Groups

12-step programs can provide community support and encouragement. These programs can include:
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • SMART Recovery

Case Management

In co-occurring substance use disorder treatment, case management can assist in coordinating care. They can also help individuals navigate complex healthcare systems. 

Family Education and Therapy

The family’s involvement can be crucial to treatment success. Family education programs can help family members understand:
  • The nature of co-occurring disorders
  • How they are treated
  • What they can do to support their loved one

Relapse Prevention Planning

Relapse prevention is essential in co-occurring substance use disorder treatment. This can help individuals identify potential risks for substance use. They can learn strategies to avoid or cope with these situations.

Treatment of Co-Occurring Medical Conditions

Many people with co-occurring disorders also have other medical issues. Addressing these conditions is a crucial part of the co-occurring substance use disorder treatment plan.
These strategies often work best when tailored to fit the needs of the individual. What works best will depend on the specific disorders and the individual’s circumstances.

How These Strategies Address Complex Interactions

The strategies are often employed in co-occurring substance use disorder treatment. They take into account the complexities of the disorders by:

Providing a Holistic Understanding

Professionals recognize that substance use and mental health disorders often feed into each other. Often, one exacerbates the symptoms of the other. 
They understand that each disorder can have its unique triggers and symptoms. These can interact in complex ways. 
As such, they approach treatment from a holistic perspective. This perspective addresses all disorders at the same time.

Individualizing Treatment Plans

Each person’s situation is unique. Thus, individualized treatment plans fit each person’s needs.

This involves assessing the person’s:
  • Disorders
  • Severity of symptoms
  • How the disorders interact
  • The person’s support system
  • Living situation
  • Physical health

Assessing and Evaluating

The treatment team needs to track and check the person’s progress. This ensures that the treatment plan is working. This is important for people with co-occurring substance use disorder treatment, as changes in one disorder can impact the others.

Providing Relapse Prevention

The treatment team will work with the individual to develop a relapse prevention plan. This plan will take into account the potential risks and warning signs for all of the person’s disorders. It will include strategies for managing cravings and dealing with stress.

Coordinating Care

Care needs to be coordinated among the professionals involved in the person’s treatment. This helps ensure that all aspects of the person’s disorders are being addressed.
By employing these strategies, professionals can address the complexities of co-occurring substance use disorder treatment.

Assessment and Diagnosis of Substance Use Disorders

Assessing and diagnosing co-occurring disorders is a complex process. It involves a comprehensive evaluation of the person’s:
  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Substance use history
  • Medical history
  • Family history
The steps for assessment and diagnosing in co-occurring substance use disorder treatment include:


This initial step often involves the use of standardized questionnaires or checklists. These can help identify potential substance use problems or mental health conditions. Screening tools are often brief. A wide range of healthcare providers can administer these tools.4

Diagnostic Evaluation

Based on the assessment, the healthcare provider will make a diagnosis. The diagnosis is made according to criteria specified in diagnostic manuals. 


The diagnosis of co-occurring disorders needs the independent diagnosis of both a substance use and a mental health disorder.

Integrated Summary and Treatment Planning

The healthcare provider will then integrate all the information into a treatment plan. This plan will address substance use and mental health disorders. It will also address any other related issues identified during the assessment.

Continuous Reassessment

Because symptoms can change over time, ongoing reassessment is critical. The treatment plan should be adjusted as necessary based on the person’s progress and changing needs.
Seek comprehensive evaluation for co-occurring substance use disorder treatment at J. Flowers Health Institute.

Challenges to Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Healthcare professionals often face many challenges when treating individuals with co-occurring substance use disorders. Here are some of the most common challenges:

Complex Diagnosis

Diagnosing co-occurring disorders can be complex and challenging. This is due to the overlapping symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders.

Limited Resources and Training

Not all treatment facilities have the resources to provide integrated care. Many mental health professionals are not trained in substance use disorder treatment and vice versa. This can make it difficult to provide the care that these individuals need.

Systemic Barriers

In many healthcare systems, mental health and substance use treatment services are separated. This fragmented approach can make it difficult to provide coordinated care. 
Also, insurance coverage for mental health and substance use treatment can be limited. This makes it difficult for some people to access the care they need.


Both mental health and substance use disorders are very stigmatized. This can create barriers to seeking and receiving treatment. People may be reluctant to disclose their symptoms due to fear of judgment.

Patient Engagement and Retention

Engaging and retaining individuals in treatment can be challenging. Many people with co-occurring disorders are in a state of crisis when they seek help. This can make it difficult for them to stick with a long-term treatment plan. 
They may also have other challenges that could interfere with treatment, such as:
  • Homelessness
  • Unemployment
  • Legal issues

Relapse Risk

Individuals with co-occurring disorders have a higher risk of relapse.5 This can make treatment more challenging. It’s often a balancing act to address both disorders without worsening symptoms.

Comorbid Medical Conditions

People with co-occurring disorders often have other physical health problems. These can complicate treatment and recovery.
To address these challenges, it’s important that healthcare systems work to integrate treatment services and improve access to care.

Effective Medication for Treating Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders

There are several medications that are available for co-occurring substance use disorder treatment. The specific medication chosen often depends on the type of substance use and mental health condition. 
Here are a few examples:
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): For instance, methadone and naltrexone are approved to treat opioid use disorders. For alcohol use disorders, medications like disulfiram and acamprosate can be used.
  • Antidepressants: If an individual has a co-occurring depression or anxiety, antidepressants might be used.
  • Mood Stabilizers and Antipsychotics: For co-occurring bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, mood stabilizers or antipsychotics are often used.
  • Medication for ADHD: For those with co-occurring ADHD, providers may prescribe medications like stimulants or atomoxetine.

Whole-Person Approach to Healing

Medication alone is often not enough for treating co-occurring disorders. The most effective co-occurring substance use disorder treatment includes a combination of:
  • Psychotherapy
  • Peer support
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Other strategies
Using medication in combination with other inventions can improve co-occurring substance use disorder treatment. 

The Role of Family Involvement in the Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders

Family involvement can play a critical role in co-occurring substance use disorder treatment.


It can have a profound impact on the recovery process for several reasons, such as:

  • The family can provide emotional support and encouragement throughout the treatment process. 
  • The involvement of family in treatment can help them better understand the nature of disorders. This can reduce stigma and misconceptions. 
  • Family members are often instrumental in observing changes in behavior or symptoms that might suggest a problem.
  • Family therapy is beneficial in helping to address and resolve family dynamics that may contribute to the disorders.
  • Family involvement can also boost treatment adherence.
  • Family can assist with the process of community reintegration.
Family involvement can be very beneficial, but not all family environments are supportive or safe. In these cases, involvement might not be beneficial. The privacy and autonomy of the person in treatment should always be respected.

Considerations for Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder Treatment for Different Age Groups

There are specific considerations needed in co-occurring substance use disorder treatment for different age groups. 
The age of the individual can impact:
  • The presentation of symptoms
  • The course of the disorders
  • The impact on the individual’s life
  • The most effective treatment approaches
Here are some examples of how co-occurring treatment may impact different ages:


Young people may need a different approach because their brains are still developing. Thus, substance use can have a different impact compared to adults. They may also have different risk factors and consequences related to substance use and mental health. 
This might include impacts on school performance or peer relationships. Family involvement is often crucial in the treatment of adolescents. School-based interventions may also be beneficial. 


Adults may have different stressors related to substance use and mental health disorders. This can include impacts on employment or parenting responsibilities. 
They may also have a longer history of substance use or mental health symptoms. This can affect the course of the disorders and the treatment approach. Treatment for adults often needs to take into account responsibilities like work and parenting. 

Older Adults

Older adults can face unique challenges related to co-occurring disorders. They may be more likely to have medical conditions that can complicate treatment. They may also have different types of stressors. 
Aging can also affect the metabolism of substances and medications. This also needs to be taken into account.
Across all age groups, it’s important to take into account the various factors that might impact treatment. A personalized, holistic approach is always crucial.
co-occurring substance use disorder treatment

Find Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder Treatment with J. Flowers Health Institute

At J. Flowers Health Institute, we’re committed to helping individuals navigate the journey of co-occurring substance use disorder treatment. 
Our experienced team delivers personalized care designed to address your specific needs and understand your symptoms for comprehensive co-occurring substance use disorder treatment.
We provide a Living MRI to help fully understand your entire health. This way, we can ensure that you get the care and support you need throughout the healing process.

Get in Touch Today

From integrated mental health and substance use treatment to medication management, we offer a broad spectrum of services tailored to you.    If you or a loved one are dealing with these challenges, don’t face them alone. Reach out to J. Flowers Health Institute today.
With the right support, recovery isn’t just possible—it’s within your reach. Let us help guide you towards a future of wellness and improved quality of life. Your journey to recovery begins with one call.

Contact J. Flowers Health Institute Today

J. Flowers Health Institute is here to help you or your loved one regain their independence and enhance their overall quality of life. 


Reach out to us today for more information about our programs.

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