Dual Diagnosis - Colorado Springs

History of Mental Health Diagnosis

The founders of AA were a few among the many individuals along the historical time-line of addiction psychology leaders who created a methodology for reducing the impact of alcohol and substance abuse for both the individual and their families. AA and its 12-Steps became one of the first methods introduced for both individuals recovering from and coping with the physical, mental, and spiritual defects that accompany alcohol and substance abuse outside the clinical setting. It not only laid the foundation for millions of recovering addicts to come, but has also played a significant role for the young men and women in our programs.

To rest treatment outcomes on the back of AA alone, though, would significantly undermine the many viable methods for people staying sober and the mental health illnesses that contribute to substance abuse. Since the time of Sigmund Freud there have been major advances in our understanding of mental health issues. Interestingly, it was not until the 1990’s that behavioral health professionals began to grasp the overlap between substance abuse and mental illness. Prior to the 90’s individuals were often denied mental health services until they got sober because the industry treated mental health and substance abuse differently. Today, especially in the state of Colorado, the industry has shifted its perspective and instead of drawing a hard line between mental health and addiction, both are treated within the continuum of care.

Substance Use and Mental Health Statistics

The coexistence of a mental health disorder and substance abuse disorder is referred to as a co-occurring disorder. In 2014, 20.2 million adults in the United States had a substance use disorder (SUD) within the last year. Among those suffering from a SUD, 7.9 million adults or 39% of those with SUD had any mental illness (AMI). Any mental illness is defined as:

A mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (excluding developmental and substance abuse disorders); Diagnosable or currently within the past year; and, Of significant duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-IV). By contrast, 35.6 million total Americans or 16.2% of the adult population had a mental illness without an SUD. Among adults with mental illness 22.2% qualified for having an SUD as well. Thus, adults with an SUD are nearly twice as likely to have a mental health issue compared to adults with AMI are to have an SUD. Lastly, of the 7.9 million adults with AMI and SUD, 29.3% of that adult population or 2.3 million young adults ages 18-25 met criteria for AMI and SUD.

Among the 20.2 million adults suffering from SUD, 2.3 million or 11.3% of them suffered from Severe Mental Illness (SMI) defined as:

Mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (excluding developmental and substance abuse disorders); Diagnosable or currently within the past year; and, Of significant duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-IV); Resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.

By contrast, 7.5 million Americans or 3.2% of the adult population had an SMI. Among the adults with SMI nearly 31% of them met criteria for an SUD. Thus, individuals with a SMI are nearly three times as likely to have an SUD than adults with SUD are to have an SMI. Lastly, of the 2.3 million adults with SMI, 35.3% of that adult population or a little over 800,000 individuals were young adults between the ages 18-25 who met criteria for SMI and SUD.

Given the data, a treatment facility’s ability to treat underlying AMI and SMI issues is a necessary component of treating adults with SUD. The statistics show a high correlation between mental illness episodes and the consumption of alcohol and, or, other substances. Individuals are using substances as a coping mechanism to manage the many stressors in life along with more serious anxious, depressive, and bi-polar mental states, for example. Not to mention drug use revolving around behavioral addictions such as gambling, eating, spending, sex, and work. All of which requires therapist to treat the underlying symptoms and reasons for those behaviors beyond alcohol and drugs themselves.

At Peaks Recovery Services every client's mental health is considered in relation to their alcohol and substance abuse.