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Are Co-occurring Disorders the Addiction Treatment's New Cash Cow?

Fact: Co-occurring disorders are more about your money than your health.

Are Co-occurring Disorders the Addiction Treatment's New Cash Cow?Most 12-Step programs and rehab centers rely on a definition of "addiction" that's full of medical, social, and financial implications. With this one label, excessive substance use transforms from a learned behavior into a "chronic disease". Rehabs and traditional treatment focus on treating this disease. Insurance providers recognize it for billing purposes as a medical condition. But what happens when you or a loved one have a mental health issue in addition to substance use issues?

Mental illness is a legitimate and serious struggle for many of our guests, but because we don't use the term "addict", or employ in-house psychiatrists or therapists, we don't diagnose or treat anyone for any mental health disorder, including addiction. When someone has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and is also experiencing substance use issues, rehabs and 12 Step programs refer to this situation as co-occurring disorders or a dual diagnosis disorder.

The idea of diagnosing co-occurring disorders in addiction treatment has gained traction for providers and allows for greater insurance coverage options for those who accept insurance. This practice is still prevalent so it's important to understand how it may affect you.

Resorting to Dual Diagnoses

Diagnosing co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders with addiction or alcoholism, isn't always motivated by scientific or medical evidence alone. Unfortunately, traditional treatment programs and rehabs sometimes capitalize on the opportunity to treat more than one condition simultaneously, because it legitimizes their treatment options, expands coverage and billing options, and provides built-in reasons for low success rates.

When rehab centers diagnose someone with a dual diagnosis, they often add more expensive and lucrative psychiatric treatment to the list of billable treatment expenses. It benefits rehabs and 12 Step programs to prove that two chronic conditions, addiction and a mental health disorder, complicate an otherwise ineligible treatment stay to allow it to be covered under insurance or billed at a higher rate.

Taking the "Easy" Way Out

Substance users who desperately want an easy "explanation" for their behaviors and choices can take a pill or get therapy without having to recognize their personal accountability in substance use choices. In fact, substance use and mental health disorders are two entirely separate conditions that are much better managed when they are not intertwined.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with addiction and another mental health condition, it's important to make sure you understand your role in past behaviors and choices, instead of dismissing them as symptoms. Maybe you believe your substance use was an attempt to self-medicate a preexisting condition, but now you know there are other effective, evidence-based ways to deal with the problem.

Your best outcome is when you hold yourself accountable for your substance use choices and behaviors. Holding yourself accountable for choices and behaviors allows you to change your substance use pattern permanently.

Substance Use and Mental Health Issues Can Be Separated

Freedom Model Retreats regularly works with guests who have been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis including anxiety, depression, ADHD, and many others. In fact, being able to selectively work and eliminate substance use behaviors can often allow for a much better evaluation of what issues may remain.

Solving Substance Use Issues Can Make Working on Mental Health Easier

By removing the issue of substance use from the picture, any mental health challenges that remain are clearer in presentation and easier for guests and mental health professionals to work with moving forward. As an optional service, we do have a local psychiatrist who accepts appointments for evaluation and treatment of mental health concerns for our guests during their stay with us. You or your loved one may choose an optional psychiatric evaluation or medication management during your stay, but remember: your choice to use substances is a separate issue.

If you'd like to learn more about the Freedom Model Retreats' Cognitive Behavioral Education (CBE) program and how it can help you or a loved one struggling with substance use and mental health issues, call one of our Family Consultants today for free, confidential information.


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