Lifeskills Mental Health Blog

Additional Tips for Choosing the Right Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center

Additional Tips for Choosing the Right Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center

Co-occurring Disorders, also known as Dual Diagnosis, are on the rise and affect between 7-9 million people in a given year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA). When a person is dually diagnosed, it means that they are suffering from a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder at the same time. More than 50% of individuals with an addiction to drugs or alcohol also have a mental health disorder.

The complex nature of treating both disorders at the same time requires highly trained and expert professionals. It is difficult to find treatment facilities competent and licensed to effectively treat the co-occurring and dually diagnosed individual. Lifeskills South Florida has become one of the National Centers of Excellence that professionals and families seek out for this type of specialty care because of their experience and success in treating this population for over 26 years. Mental health professionals understand those struggling with co-occurring disorders are at high risk for relapse and require a great deal of attention and support. While clinicians explore the complexities of each case, time is of great importance. Discovering the relationship between substance use and mental health issue becomes a primary focus while stabilizing and supporting the patient and family.

What are the top considerations in choosing a Dual Diagnosis treatment center?

1. Make sure the program offers a long enough treatment stay to fully address the complicated nature of the co-occurring issues. The traditional 30 day programs are most likely not effective enough to optimize the functioning of these individuals. Programs specializing in the treatment of acute mental health symptoms, trauma and substance use disorders offer programming for 60-90 days of treatment to more effectively stabilize those individuals struggling with co-occurring disorders.

2. Facilities specializing in treating this co-occurring population have state licensing from the appropriate regulatory bodies in both substance use and in mental health. Additionally, these facilities will have accreditation meeting industry standards from CARF(Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, JCAHO(Joint Commission Accreditation) or COA (Council On Accreditation). Lifeskills chose CARF Accreditation as that particular accreditation best fits the Lifeskills treatment model.

3. Programs specializing in long term treatment, giving individuals the best opportunity to establish successful recovery, offer full continuums of care. The full continuum of care provides individuals safe environments in which to demonstrate their newly learned skills. In this environment of support, individuals are encouraged to take the next steps in recovery – volunteering, part-time work, or continuing education, all while having assistance and support. As individuals gain success, they are able to increase independence and cultivate meaningful life activities. After residential treatment, Lifeskills offers transitional housing and Intensive Outpatient (IOP), allowing individual’s time in the community to establish and grow their newly attained skills. Lifeskills provides coaching, therapy, 24-hour awake staff and on-call clinical staff to assist individuals as they move down the continuum of care.

4. Effective programs will have staff trained and certified in evidence-based treatment (EBT) modalities. Evidence-Based Treatment has demonstrated successful outcomes by scientific evidence and research through the collection of data. At Lifeskills not only are the best practices utilized, but clinical staff are certified in the specific practices. These modalities include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Mood Disorders, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Personality and Substance Use Disorders, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) for Trauma, and Cognitive Remediation for Thought Disorders. In addition to EBT certified staff, programs treating more acute co-occurring disorders need highly credentialed staffs that are academically trained to deal with such complexities. At Lifeskills South Florida, all clinicians have master’s degrees in education and are licensed in their specialty. The majority of the clinical staff are doctoral-level practitioners.

5. Treatment Center programming should offer individual and group therapies in the modality that best treats an individual’s unique symptoms. “Cookie cutter” programing does not meet the need of more complex co-occurring individuals. Additional programming should include family therapy including a family weekend experience, weekly psychiatric and pharmacology sessions, holistic health programming, medication-assisted therapies, and other adjunct therapies. The Lifeskills South Florida Medical Director is a quadruple board-certified psychiatrist specializing in adult psychiatry, adolescent psychiatry and addiction medicine. Through the use of individualized treatment and skilled medical practitioners, Lifeskills South Florida offers individuals effective programming for their unique needs.

Read More about Dr. David Ockman, PsyD, CAP.

Read More about Dual Diagnosis: Questions to Ask when Choosing a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center.

Although it can be a challenge to find a program that meets all of these necessary requirements, Lifeskills South Florida has customized a program specifically for the individual struggling with co-occurring disorders. If you or a loved one is in need of expert Dual Diagnosis treatment, please contact us.


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