Options for Severe Mental Illness

When you suffer from a severe mental illness, everything in your daily life can be affected, from daily functions like sleeping and eating to more distressing symptoms of impaired cognition, erratic mood swings, and relationships with those you love. In essence, suffering from a mental illness decreases your ability to manage and cope with life.

About Mental Illness and Dual Diagnosis

Major depression and anxiety, schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can all be classified as severe mental illnesses, as reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The range of illnesses one can have, and the spectrum of severity, when combined with a substance abuse disorder can be especially difficult to treat.

Here are some quick facts about Dual Diagnosis:

  • One in 17 Americans live with a severe mental illness in the course of their lifetime.
  • One out of 4 Americans experience a mental health disorder in any given year. This estimates to just over 57 million people.
  • Of those with a serious mental illness, an estimated 50 percent abuse substances.
  • About 47 percent of people with schizophrenia and 61 percent with bipolar disorder also had a substance abuse problem.
  • Over 35 percent of alcoholics have a mental illness (or multiple).

Dual Diagnosis is a delicate problem that requires treatment that is just as sensitive. Because drugs and alcohol can both contribute to and exacerbate a mental illness, it can be hard to determine which illness facilitates the other. Multiple models have been used in treatment for Dual Diagnosis, but which one is right for you?

  • Sequential treatment. This option for treatment looks at both the mental illness and the disease of addiction/abuse in disparate terms. During treatment, either the addiction or the mental illness is examined first, followed by the other issue. While individuals can attend outside support groups or therapies during symptomatic episodes (for example, drinking binges or manic/depressive swings), each illness is treated separately from the other. The sequential model can work effectively for those who experience a severe mental illness or addiction, while the latter remains mild in comparison.
  • Parallel treatment.  In the parallel model, individuals receive simultaneous treatment for both the addiction and the mental illness. Similar to sequential therapy, a person can still attend groups, meetings, and events to assist with their sobriety and mental health. The issues at hand are still treated separately, but therapies coincide with one another.
  • Integrated treatment.  Of the three models, integrated therapy is perhaps the most promising option for Dual Diagnosis persons. Combining treatments targeted at the addiction and the mental illness, an integrated approach also works in life skills that can help an individual cope with daily life, withdrawals, and potential relapses. This comprehensive treatment looks at the mental health and addiction of the patient as co-occurring and relies little on distinction between the two.


At Foundations Recovery Network, we have a proven effective integrated treatment plan for comorbid individuals. Our plan assesses the individual as a whole person, encompassing the mental illness and addiction. We don’t aim to treat just the problem, but we focus on the person. Call Foundations Recovery Network today and let’s get conquer Dual Diagnosis together.

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