Did you know?

Treatment choices for addiction and mental health conditions will vary from person to person.

When you or your loved one are experiencing challenges with addiction or mental health issues, there are many different treatment options available. A range of services and supports exist for people with all types of conditions and finding the right mix is an important step in the recovery process. Treatment choices for addiction and mental health conditions will vary from person to person. Even people with the same addiction issue or mental health diagnosis will have different experiences, needs, goals and objectives for treatment. There is no “one size fits all” treatment.

So how do you go about finding the right services for you or your loved one? An internet search will likely reveal a number of new terms that you or your loved one are unfamiliar with. An already stressful decision may become even more frustrating and challenging when attempting to decipher what everything means. This article is designed as a guide to decipher some of these broader terms that are commonly used to discuss treatment programs, in order to help you find the right services that you need for treatment.

Let’s start with the terms “treatment” and “rehab”. While “rehab” is more commonly associated with drug and alcohol programs specifically, essentially “rehab” is an interchangeable term with “treatment”. The term rehab comes from rehabilitation and is defined as the process of restoring an individual to their former capacity, preparing them to resume a normal lifestyle after a period of illness or poor health. This is achieved by intensive, supervised programs designed to help people overcome the challenges associated with their addiction or mental health diagnosis and give them the tools they need to live a healthy life. Rehabs may work with an individual to overcome issues related to any addiction or mental health issue but most chose to specialize in specific areas or diagnoses. This introduces us to a few more commonly used terms including “drug and alcohol” or “substance use” treatment, “mental health” treatment and “dual-diagnosis” or “co-occurring disorders” treatment.

“Drug and alcohol” or “substance use” treatment programs are the most commonly known, advertised and attended rehabs. You likely know someone in your life that has been to a drug and alcohol program, have noticed one in your local neighborhood or have seen a television advertisement for one of these programs. Substance use treatment typically focuses on providing clients with the tools they need to live a life free of mind-altering substances. These programs tend to take a variety of different approaches to substance use treatment, so let’s explore these a little further. Programs claiming to be “12-step based or focused” use the principles and philosophies of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous to drive their program. “Faith-based” or “Christian” programs use Christian principles and teachings in dealing with substance abuse. Religious personnel are employed in a rehab center that uses this program and activities usually include bible studies, discussions, and prayer. Holistic programs focus on strengthening the connection between mind, body and spirit and utilize practices such as breathwork, meditation and nutrition to address all aspects of wellness. “Evidenced-based” programs utilize counseling techniques that are supported by extensive peer-reviewed research. A more recent term that you may also see in relation to substance use treatment is “MAT” or “MAT-friendly” programs. “MAT” is “medically assisted treatment” and refers to the use of FDA-approved medications such as Naltrexone and Buprenorphine in combination with counseling and behavioral therapy to treat substance use disorders. While all this may seem overwhelming, the truth is that many substance use treatment programs utilize a variety of the above outlined philosophies in their program and it is less common to see a rehab focused on any one area.

The next type of facility is a “mental health” or “psychiatric” treatment facility. These programs focus on primarily treating mental health diagnoses that are not substance use disorders including bipolar, schizophrenia, major depression and anxiety.  Mental health facilities typically offer a home-like atmosphere and strong sense of community that help residents build self-esteem, develop relationships, and improve life skills. These programs utilize medications in conjunction with intensive mental health treatment to help clients develop coping skills to function in their daily lives. Some programs will provide treatment to a variety of different diagnoses, while others will focus on specific mental health disorders such eating disorders or schizophrenia.

The final important term to be aware of is “Dual diagnosis” or “co-occurring disorders” programs. These programs provide care for individuals who are experiencing both a substance use diagnosis as well as their diagnosed mental illness at the same time. Many existing substance use treatment programs claim to be “dual diagnosis” programs, however it is important to know what questions to ask the program to identify what services they provide their clients struggling with mental illness. If all these terms and information has resulted in even more confusion, contact one of our advisors who will be happy to answer any questions you have about the treatment process.

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