Dual Diagnosis Support at CooperRiis
CooperRiis is a primary mental health program that supports those with a history of addiction. Our support of “dual diagnosis” recovery means helping all residents achieve mental wellness while helping those with a history of addiction maintain lasting sobriety. Although CooperRiis is not a substance use program and does not provide detox, many of our residents have histories that include alcohol, cannabis, or prescription drug use disorders. Process addictions, such as video games, phones, and screen addictions, are common in those we treat. For anyone considering CooperRiis, especially those with active heroin use or who have not yet committed to or achieved sobriety, we recommend substance abuse treatment before admission.
CooperRiis serves persons with dual-diagnosis, and other psychotic spectrum disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, anxiety, depression, PTSD, in an open and peaceful residential setting that allows individuals to progress through a continuum of care.
Research shows that those with a history of dual-disorders have better outcomes when their mental health and addictions disorders are addressed simultaneously. Thus longer-term treatment with an integrated therapy team and in the same environment is most effective.
Imagine for a moment that you want to lose weight, and you have three experts to help you: a nutritionist, a personal trainer, and a doctor. Now imagine that these three people never speak to one another. The doctor knows that you have problems regulating your blood sugar, but never shares that with your nutritionist. Your nutritionist puts lots of fruit on your dietary plan, not knowing that this may make your insulin regulation problem worse. Finally, you arrive at the gym with your blood sugar shooting sky-high or dipping too low, and your trainer doesn’t understand why your energy levels vary so much. You may make some headway on your goals, but you also may give up, frustrated with how terrible you feel. Now imagine an entirely different scenario where these three experts are communicating vital information with one another. It’s much more likely you’ll succeed with your weight loss goals when everyone who is helping you has all the information needed. This example illustrates why an integrated treatment works well for dual diagnoses.
What are the building blocks of Integrated Treatment?
- Coordinated treatment for multiple diagnoses
- All healthcare professionals cooperate and share information
- Bundled interventions (A bundle is a small, straightforward set of evidence-based practices that, when performed collectively and reliably, have been proven to improve outcomes.)
- No division between treatments
Why is Integrated Dual Recovery Important?
- The integrated treatment has been proven consistently more effective
- Recognizing the relationship between the diagnoses can help recovery planning
- Treating one without the other usually leads to a relapse of both
- There is no evidence that one disorder causes the other
- To be aware of the risks of returning to use
- Integrated treatment is often less expensive than separate treatments
Since 2003, CooperRiis has helped people recover with a holistic approach to healing personalized for each individual.
Support Systems at CooperRiis
We expect sobriety of those we admit; we do not provide detox. We have many supports in place, however, for helping our residents maintain their sobriety. These include regular and random drug and alcohol screening, conversations about staying sober. We do weekly or monthly breathalyzer checks and urine analysis if necessary. If we suspect a resident is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we do on-the-spot drug and breathalyzer tests. After a resident’s shopping trip, their bags are checked, and we also check their mail and any packages received. We do periodic room searches.
Outings offer opportunities to continue to practice being sober with staff support. Off-campus excursions can be particularly challenging for residents with dual-disorders because of the risk of being triggered, such as seeing people drinking alcohol in a restaurant. If needed, when on an outing, a staff member will always keep the resident in-sight. We give residents privacy but also provide support to ensure sobriety is maintained. If a resident requests one-on-one support when they are on an outing, or if our staff feel it is needed, this kind of support is available.
We are careful to inform potential residents to know about their supports and make sure that they are acceptable and comfortable to them. Accountability is never punitive.
In much the same way that we have traditional and nontraditional treatments at CooperRiis, we also have ordinary and un-common supports. Just as with the non-traditional treatments, we consider the unconventional supports to be integral to our program and our residents’ success.
Making friends at CooperRiis and having community support is so essential to our residents’ success. Forming friendships fosters a sense of responsibility in residents. Our residents don’t want to use around other community members because that would be disrespectful to the sobriety goals of others.
There is also a feeling of, “I’ve got your back!” between residents who have a dual diagnosis. Residents help when they see someone struggling, and will even promise to stick close together when going on outings to support one another. With the support of others in the community, residents begin to learn to trust others and themselves again. They start to see that people care about them and want them to succeed. Community is a big part of the recovery process as it helps people to do the work they need to do and to feel better about themselves as they are doing the work.
Health and Wellness
We teach our residents about health and wellness here and help them to understand that what we put into our bodies affects our brain and moods. Healthy eating and plenty of sleep are essential to those with a co-occurring disorder. Lack of sleep and poor nutrition can worsen feelings of anxiety and depression. People sometimes self-medicate with alcohol or drugs when feeling anxious or depressed.
Our Beautiful Campuses
There are fewer triggers at CooperRiis than in the outside world, and we protect residents from encounters with people who may be casually consuming alcohol or smoking pot. Plenty of daily activities and healthy outlets, including local hikes, camping trips, bookstores, YMCA, or coffee shops, are part of the CooperRiis routine, making CooperRiis is a serene place to thrive and heal while building life skills safely.
Currently, outside trips are limited due to COVID-19.
Integrated Treatment at CooperRiis:
Treating the Whole Person
At CooperRiis, we apply the findings of evidence-based research to the care of residents with dually diagnosed disorders. And most important, we ask questions and listen when residents tell us their needs. Some people thrive in group therapy sessions, while others benefit more from one-on-one therapy. Overall, we strive to provide a safe, healing environment with minimal triggers for relapse.
We offer all of the traditional treatments for dual diagnosis such as:
- Individual therapy and addictions counseling
- Weekly Dual Diagnosis Support Group (run by residents)
- Weekly Dual Diagnosis Psychoeducation & Process Support Group (run by therapists)
- Weekly Addiction Education Group, including nicotine cessation
- AA group meets weekly on campus at the farm
- Relapse prevention and sobriety resources
- Milieu Therapy within a Supportive Community
During dual diagnosis groups, residents talk about the substance and mental health aspects of their recovery. They discuss triggers, coping skills, and how mental health conditions and substance abuse affect each other. They also share stories and support each other, fostering a sense of community. It is helpful for residents to hear others’ stories to understand that they are not alone, and to appreciate that other people have similar challenges.
Seven Domains of a Whole, Healthy Person
Because we are focused on the whole person, we put a great deal of emphasis on all aspects of a person’s health.
We know that if a person is suffering in one of the areas above, even if it is not directly related to their diagnosis, it will be challenging to focus on healing. Our community work and service programs give residents a sense of purpose, productivity, and fulfillment. Work and service also aid our residents in feeling connected to the community.
The anti-inflammatory whole foods diet we serve teaches our residents how to eat well and improves physical wellness, while programs like yoga, mindfulness, and our Buddhist-based Refuge Recovery group feed the spiritual needs of our residents. Art therapy and therapeutic drumming stimulate creativity and leave many of our residents feeling fulfilled. We find that these non-traditional ‘treatments’ are just as important as the more conventional ones in helping our residents to fully embrace life and achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions
Someone diagnosed with a mental health disorder and substance abuse disorder, also termed a dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorder, or dual-disorder. In this article, these three terms are interchangeable. Substance abuse includes addiction to or dependence on alcohol or drugs, as well as process addictions, which are addictions that is related to actions. These include gambling, television, the internet, video games, sex and porn, and shopping and spending money.
A dual disorder can be challenging to diagnose for several reasons:
- Complexity and severity of symptoms
- Symptom overlap
- Those seeking treatment have often been misdiagnosed
- People diagnosed with a mental health disorder do not realize or believe that their substance use is related to their diagnosis
- Substance abuse symptoms can veil symptoms of mental illness
- Symptoms of mental illness can be easily confused with symptoms of addiction
Addressing both mental illness and substance misuse together is of utmost importance. Dual disorders affect one another and impact the success of treatment. See more information on integrated dual diagnosis treatment on this page.
Statistics on Dual Diagnosis
- About one-third of all people experiencing mental health issues and about one-half of people living with severe mental health issues also experience substance abuse.
- Around one-third of all those who abuse alcohol and more than one-half of all those who use drugs report experiences of mental illness.
- Men are more likely to develop co-occurring disorders than women.
- Individuals of lower socioeconomic status, military veterans, and people with physical illnesses are at higher risk. (NAMI)
The signs and symptoms of dual diagnosis vary greatly depending on which mental health disorder is diagnosed and the substance being abused.
Personality, demographics, and mental illness identified often influence the drug of choice. For instance, an anxious person will often abuse drugs that make him, or her feel calm. Someone with low, slow energy will use substances that give them energy. Older people tend to drink, while younger people are more likely to use hallucinogenic drugs. Background also determines the chosen drug. If a child observed their parents drinking alcohol, they are more likely to choose alcohol over other drugs as an adult.
Some generalizations can be made about the signs and symptoms of dual disorders, although they are not always applicable.
- If mental health symptoms worsen even while receiving treatment, it is often a sign a latent substance abuse issue is present.
- If alcohol or substance use problems seem resistant to treatment, there may be an unidentified mental health disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is diagnosed after a person experiences symptoms for at least one month following a traumatic event. However, symptoms do not always appear quickly. It can take months, or even years, for PTSD symptoms to manifest.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is characterized by four main types of symptoms:
- Reliving a traumatic event through intrusive recollections, anxiety attacks, flashbacks, and nightmares
- Emotional numbness
- Avoidance of normal daily activities and other people
- Feeling cut off from others and negative mood and thought patterns
- Increased reactivity and difficulty sleeping, feeling jumpy, easily irritated and angered
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