Chateau Recovery treats more than addiction - we treat the whole person. Addiction is often just a symptom of something bigger. This article explains why it is important for treatment centers to look for more than just addiction, but also screen for the large array of co-occurring disorders that could be hiding.
Addiction Is a Symptom
Often substance use disorder is a secondary effect of an underlying mental illness. Many people tend to self-medicate as a way to deal with difficult emotions or memories. A person might not be able to handle symptoms of a mental illness and use the substances to dull the senses or to make up for a dopamine deficit.
While a person might use substances as a way to deal with difficult emotions or symptoms, oftentimes, substance use tends to have the opposite effect by making the symptoms worse either immediately or in the long term.
The Many Co-Occurring Disorders
Substance use disorder is found alongside many different disorders, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and ADHD, among many others. Research has found that about half of people who are dealing with substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental disorder.
There are many different reasons why so many mental disorders come alongside substance use disorders. While some might use substances as a way to cope with symptoms, others might have developed disorders because of their substance misuse. The changes that occur in the brain from substance use occur in the same parts of the brain that are impacted by mental disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety, mood, and impulse disorders. The changes in brain structure might bring up mental disorders that the person was predisposed to.
PTSD has a very high comorbidity with substance use disorder, so much so that many clinics and treatment centers are taking a trauma-informed approach to the care that their clients receive. Trauma-informed care leads with the assumption that a person they take in has experienced trauma in the past. This approach can keep a person from being retraumatized, therefore ensuring that they do not increase the risk of relapse or cause the client to leave treatment early.
Trauma-informed care might also keep in mind how trauma affects someone physically, as well as emotionally. A person who has experienced sexual trauma or physical trauma might have parts of their body they do not want to be touched, or they might have spacial boundaries.
Clinics can also be aware of a person's emotional triggers. A person who has a history of trauma might react in a way that others might not expect, which can lead to unfair judgment. For example, a client could be labeled as “difficult.” Trauma-informed care removes those labels and looks at the sources of their reactions as a way to better understand the person and what they went through.
Before treatment begins, clients are screened for possible PTSD through questionnaires such as the adverse childhood experiences questionnaire that can determine the extent of PTSD the person has and how that could impact treatment. The questionnaires can also help professionals determine the likelihood of relapse after treatment and how much focus should be put on aftercare.
Even if a person does not meet the criteria of PTSD or does not report underlying trauma, clinics still continue to lead with the assumption that they do have it. People might initially feel too guarded to disclose certain traumas in a clinical setting, or they might not be aware of how a past event affects their behavior today.
The Whole Person
At Chateau, we focus on treating the entire person instead of just their substance abuse. Many clinics ignore what is lying underneath, neglecting what may have led to this person's substance use. Our program takes a whole-person approach to wellness and treatment. There are multiple aspects of a person and many different parts of their life that need healing. A person might turn to substance use due to work stress, mental health, and family dysfunction. While taking part in substance misuse, they might not have the best physical health or habits.
People also have different histories that complicate their treatment. Their history might include different attachment styles or ways of forming relationships. Keeping these types of things in mind can help ensure more successful care.
A Person's Circumstance Impacts Care
Underlying histories and disorders might change the care approach. Therapy is not one-size-fits-all, and co-occurring disorders complicate treatment. For example, a person who has PTSD might need a different approach than a person who has addiction and ADHD. If the person has ADHD and PTSD, then the strategy of treatment changes to adjust to that background.
Personality is considered, as well. A person might be shy, apprehensive about treatment, or might seem talkative, but avoids talking about the deeper issues. A therapist might consider the individual's personality and how they can navigate their way to the larger issues hiding underneath.
Even patients who are resistant to treatment can be worked with using this method. People who normally get cast aside as “too difficult” can be worked with by considering the entire person beyond what is in front of them on the surface.
Finding the Roots and Beginning Healing
Once we are able to uncover what is beneath, we can begin processing issues, solving problems, and healing damage. The person can look within and understand their own pain in multiple areas of their life. By looking at the roots of the issue, they can begin building a better foundation. They can then rebuild different parts of their life that would otherwise interfere with their sobriety.