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If co-occurring disorders are present, are the mental health problems or the substance use problems treated first?

March 8, 2018

Usually, patients will be treated for all co-occurring disorders at the same time. This is known as integrated treatment.

Essentially, integrated treatment works to treat all disorders as though they are simply different aspects of a single disorder. It assesses the interaction between all the disorders which are present in order to find the most appropriate treatment methods. This works to break the cycle which is common with co-occurring disorders, in which one disorder contributes or exacerbates others.

Sometimes, co-occurring disorders are treated individually, either parallel or sequentially. Parallel treatments mean that an individual has each disorder treated at the same time, but with different treatment methods and sometimes by different treatment providers. Sequential treatment is similar, but it focuses on treating one disorder at a time.

The problem with both parallel and sequential treatments for co-occurring disorders is that it can result in conflicting treatment methods or messages from treatment providers. This can make it less effective than the integrated treatment method, which is favoured here at Serenity.

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