There is a large population of men and women who suffer from both a mental/psychiatric illness and a substance abuse addiction. It’s common that the symptoms of a psychiatric illness, such as hearing voices or experiencing delusions, might drive one to want to use substances. In fact, many people with psychiatric illness say that they end up drinking or using drugs as a way to drown out the voices.
On the other hand, using drugs might also induce psychiatric symptoms. The use of psychedelics, for instance, have led to experiencing psychosis for some people. In this way, it’s been difficult for mental health professionals to determine in some of their clients whether it’s the mental illness or the addiction that came first.
However, if you’re one who experiences both an addiction and a psychiatric illness, achieving the best sober living must be done by treating both disorders at the same time. There’s no question that both need to be treated appropriately. Research indicates that the best form of treatment for a co-existing mental illness and an addiction is to treat both disorders at the same time — which is commonly referred to as the process of integrated treatment, or a dual diagnosis. In fact, when they are treated concurrently, there is a significant decrease in suicide attempts and psychotic episodes.
Furthermore, to acquire the best sober living experience for those who have what’s called a dual diagnosis, or two diagnoses – the mental illness and the addiction – treatment needs to be thorough. For instance, treatment would include individual and family psychotherapy, medication, support groups, and strong communication among the psychiatrist, psychologist, family members, social workers, teachers, and other professionals in the individual’s life. Ideally, there would be an integration of services between the psychiatric and the drug counseling fields in order to best treat an individual with a co-occurring disorder.
Holistic treatment, such as the one described above are being adopted by more and more organizations and treatment models. For instance, according to the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA or PRA), psychiatric rehabilitation promotes recovery, full community integration and improved quality of life for persons who have been diagnosed with any mental health condition that seriously impairs functioning. Psychiatric rehabilitation services are collaborative, person-directed, and individualized, and an essential element to restoring the health and well-being of individuals. Services focus on helping individuals develop skills and access resources needed to increase their capacity to be successful and satisfied in the living, working, learning and social environments of their choice.
In order for those who have a psychiatric illness to be satisfied in the living, working, learning and social environments of their choice, there must also be some form of addiction treatment. Achieving the best sober living experience for those with a psychiatric illness also means focusing on how the addiction and the mental illness are feeding each other and how to reduce the level of harm that each are creating.
In an effort to help guide individuals and organizations in the right direction towards facilitating the best possible sober living experience (on both parts), the PRA recommends these “12 Core Principles and Values” to follow. This list proves to be extremely helpful in locating the right facility that is specific to one’s recovery from addiction and mental illness. Some of these principles include:
Principle 1: Psychiatric rehabilitation practitioners convey hope and respect, and believe that all individuals have the capacity for learning and growth.
Principle 2: Psychiatric rehabilitation practitioners recognize that culture is central to recovery, and strive to ensure that all services are culturally relevant to individuals receiving services.
Principle 3: Psychiatric rehabilitation practitioners engage in the processes of informed and shared decision‐making and facilitate partnerships with other persons identified by the individual receiving services.
Principle 4: Psychiatric rehabilitation practices build on the strengths and capabilities of individuals.
Principle 5: Psychiatric rehabilitation practices are person‐centered; they are designed to address the unique needs of individuals, consistent with their values, hopes and aspirations.
You can find the rest of the “12 Core Principles and Values” on PRA’s website. Meanwhile, as you continue in your recovery, you might want to make a list of your own principles and values that can help guide you to finding the best sober living facility specific to your needs and well-being.
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