Integrated treatment for substance use disorders

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Research studies indicate that most adolescents with substance abuse (SA) disorders also qualify for diagnosis of one or more mental illnesses, including mood disorders, behavioral disorders, eating disorders, and psychosis (Shrier, Harris, Kurland, & Knight, 2003). Professionals refer to the co-occurrence of SA disorders and mental illness as comorbidity (i.e., dual diagnosis).

Prior to the 1970s, SA treatment was provided in mental health institutions. Since that time, treatment for SA has become increasingly separate from the mental health system. The treatment is usually provided at SA treatment centers or through the alcoholics anonymous (AA) twelve-step programs.

This separation has been a problem for people with dual diagnosis. When an individual presents with both SA disorder and mental illness, SA treatment facilities tend to refer the individual to mental health providers. Likewise, psychological services are not well equipped to handle substance-related issues and tend to refer those individuals back to SA treatment facilities. In other words, treatment providers do not address both issues at the same time. Most psychological service providers require individuals to resolve their addictions before beginning mental health treatment, and most SA treatment providers require the individuals to be psychiatrically stable before beginning SA recovery treatment.

In recent years, however, there has been a movement toward integrated treatment of SA disorders and mental illnesses or the treatment of both at the same time by the same service provider (Riggs, 2003; Sterling, Chi, & Hinman, 2011).

For this assignment, drawing upon the week’s information and ancillary research, address the following:

  • Discuss the integrated treatment for adolescents who have both SA disorder and mental illness.
    • Do you support the existing model of treating one disorder first, then treating the other, or do you support the newer model of treating both at the same time? Provide at least three reasons for your position and support your argument using information from at least two academic sources and cite those sources using APA format.
  • Create a description of a fictional adolescent struggling with both types of disorders (SA and a mental illness).
    • Be specific in your identification of which substance-related disorder and which mental illness diagnosis the adolescent has been given; provide details about the adolescent’s symptoms; and make a recommendation for the adolescent’s treatment.
    • Describe your recommendation, specifically mentioning whether it should be integrated or not.
    • Provide a fictional description of the progress the adolescent makes in that treatment as a way to illustrate how and why the chosen method of treatment is effective.

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