The Importance of Co-Occurring Treatment

Gabrielle Konyak - TherapistHello, my name is Gabrielle Konyak and I am the Clinical Program Coordinator at Omega Recovery. I am currently licensed as an LPC-A, I have been working in the field for about two years. My clinical experience has centered around treatment of dual diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorders. I am always eager to speak on the importance of co-occurring treatment, as it is fundamental in effective treatment for many individuals.

My initial clinical experience was working specifically with addiction at the partial hospitalization level. What I learned quickly working directly with those clients was that addiction was not the only thing they were struggling with. Most people with addiction are treated just for their addiction, but the underlying problem is not addressed. We can see addiction co-occurring with other mental health diagnoses; such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention-deficit or personality disorders. The approach for many is to treat the addiction, and then refer to a therapist who will focus on the mental health diagnosis. This can result in clients being rejected from programs due to them having “an addiction” or “a mental health diagnosis” and being deemed “inappropriate” for a program who will only focus on one or the other. This stigma in the professional community can travel to stigma that client’s experience. It can result in addicts being told they cannot take psychiatric medications or participate in mental health treatment. For this reason a big push in the mental health community has been to decrease the stigma between mental health and addiction, and bring them together to create effective treatment for each client.

At Omega, our 60-day partial hospitalization program offers a variety of groups that focus not just on mental health education and coping skills, but addiction as well. We discuss the role dopamine plays in motivation, the stages of change, family systems at play, along with many others. A large part of recovery focuses on not just learning about your addiction or diagnosis, but learning how to cope with it in the future. Many people come to treatment with the expectation that simply being in a program will keep them sober. Our job as a treatment center is to explain why addiction is present, and gain insight with the client on how to use effective relapse prevention in the future. For that reason it would be unrealistic to only address the drinking or technology use, if we are engaging in those activities to cope with past trauma, low mood, anxiety or isolation. Focusing in with clients on addressing those issues; why they are currently present for us and learning coping skills for their presence in the future, is an integral part of treatment. Individualized treatment is integral for our clients’ success.

The coping skills and education that we provide focus mainly around the modality known as dialectical behavior therapy (also known as DBT). We encourage our clients to learn these skills to increase distress tolerance, emotional regulation and mindfulness skills. In learning these skills clients learn how to cope with triggers and stressors, which can present in environmental, relational or emotional ways. My hope as a therapist is to provide my clients with a well rounded approach that encompasses the entire spectrum of why they are seeking treatment and set them up for success not just in treatment, but outside of treatment.

Call Now