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How Rehab Centers Treat Women with Dual Diagnosis

There are a lot of terms that are used to reference the situation of having both a substance use disorder and a mental illness. Sometimes it is called dual diagnosis. Other times, it may be comorbid or co-occurring disorders.

Dual diagnosis can happen in any combination and number, but there are patterns among specific groups. For instance, a handout from a resource center in Berkeley cites a national study of substance abuse treatment admissions, which showed the following rates of substance abuse among women with dual diagnosis:

Women with Dual Diagnosis

Rehabs should offer women-only groups and activities.

  • 46% of women suffering from dual diagnosis abuse alcohol
  • 18% of women suffering from dual diagnosis abuse opiates
  • 17% of women suffering from dual diagnosis abuse cocaine
  • 10% of women suffering from dual diagnosis abuse marijuana
  • 4% of women suffering from dual diagnosis abuse stimulants
  • 4% of women suffering from dual diagnosis abuse other drugs

But, this isn’t the only pattern that emerges with study. There are a number of specific problems that women with a dual diagnosis bring with them to treatment and these problems create unique treatment patterns.

The discussion that follows will focus on some of the ways that rehab centers treat women with dual diagnosis. Every treatment facility will not follow these guidelines exactly, but they will give you a good idea of general patterns and approaches. Obviously, when you find a rehab center that you think will work for you, you should ask questions and discover their specific treatment plan.

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Screening and Assessment

These are the first steps that any addict in treatment will go through.

People with co-occurring disorders tend not to receive treatment for both mental health and substance abuse, although women are more likely than men. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports 48 percent of adults in America with dual diagnosis pursued either substance abuse or mental health treatment. Only 11.8 percent of the group pursued both.

Female clients with co-occurring disorders will have problems navigating split medical, psychological and addiction medicine systems. So, the first step is screening them in all of these areas. If something is identified in the screening, a more thorough assessment will be conducted.

Best Practices

Although each treatment plan and facility make up will differ, studies have shown that certain practices work best when treating women with dual diagnosis.

Women with dual diagnosis are best served when:

  • Programs build on their specific strengths
  • Approaches are supportive rather than confrontational
  • Offerings include women-only groups and activities
  • There are strong policies in place that relate to sexual harassment and safety
  • There are many female staff members
  • Offerings include programming for both women and children

Long-Term Approach

Because of the complexity of dealing with both mental illness and substance abuse, women with a dual diagnosis do not quickly achieve stability. Rehab Centers will take a long-term approach to achieving functional improvements.  Women in long-term treatment are more effectively able to reduce or end drug use in comparison to those in short-term treatment. They are also less likely to experience homelessness after they complete treatment.

Integrated Treatment

Both components of a dual diagnosis need to be treated and the process of coordinated substance abuse and mental health treatment is called integrated treatment. In the past, mental health concerns and substance abuse ones have been treated by separate teams in separate locations. More recently, the trend has been to have both services delivered simultaneously and as part of a single treatment plan. Evidence supports the success of this approach. Additionally, as dual diagnosis patients may have additional problems navigating multiple systems of treatment, this is the best approach for a rehab center servicing a woman with a dual diagnosis.

What you Must Know About Dual Diagnosis

Comprehensive Focus

In order to achieve permanent change, many women with a dual diagnosis will need to address multiple parts of their lives. Commonly, these women will need help to develop and maintain supports while also achieving functional goals. This is why many rehab centers will offer:

  • Money management classes
  • Drug testing
  • Vocational rehabilitation services
  • Housing assistance
  • Links to other services in order to provide a continuum of care

Programs that can’t provide all of these services will, instead, maintain linkages with other organizations in order to provide effective services.

If you’re struggling with addiction, it’s important that you find a rehab center that is ready to deal with your specific situation. We can help you get the treatment you need, call 800-481-6320Who Answers? today.

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