Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Alcohol and Drug Abuse

A co-occurring disorder refers to when one person has two or more mental health disorders or medical illnesses. In 2019, 9.5 million American adults between 18 and 25 were diagnosed with at least one co-occurring disorder alongside a substance use disorder. When health disorders appear together, they impact each other and often cannot be separated. When one gets worse, the other suffers as well. For this reason, when you have co-occurring disorders, you need to treat them together to improve both conditions simultaneously.

Integrated Treatment for Co-occurring Disorders

Integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders is when one provider (or one team of providers) delivers both mental health and substance use services simultaneously. The provider or team focuses on helping an individual manage both.

For example, a person may have depression and alcohol use disorder. Addressing only part of the problem leads to failures in treatment because this is what often happens. With treatment, a person who has alcohol use disorder can stop drinking. But if this same person has depression and isn’t managing that at the same time, even though they’re committed to sobriety, the depression makes it harder to keep that resolve. At the same time, alcohol abuse makes depression worse.

On the other hand, addressing all substance abuse and mental health disorders together as part of a holistic approach is far more likely to succeed because you’re bringing solutions to all of the challenges, not just treating addiction like an isolated occurrence. It’s all connected. You are a whole, complex, and beautifully-unique person.

Benefits of Integrated Treatment

Integrative treatment helps patients understand the role that substance abuse plays in their life and how substances can interact with mental health. Knowledge is power, and once you have been able to see how everything works together, you can develop strategies to get those gears moving in the right direction in your life to be who you want to be.

What Does Integrated Treatment Look Like?

Therapy is specifically effective for co-occurring disorders. Some form of therapy that your provider may recommend include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – A form of talk therapy that helps you identify thought patterns and habits that aren’t serving you. You can then replace them with more constructive alternatives.
  • Dialectical-behavioral therapy – A form of CBT in which you practice staying present-focused to manage your emotions and behaviors in real-time
  • Group therapy – A type of guided therapy that involves talking with, and listening to other people dealing with similar life challenges, addictions, and mental health disorders. Through it, you discover you’re not alone and learn how to connect and interact with others constructively.


One of the most important elements of integrative treatment is the individualized treatment plan. These plans address personal struggles, triggers, strengths, and circumstances for deeper, more lasting healing.

There is no one size fits all solution in mental health treatment. But some strategies are evidence-based. That means they’ve been proven to help people overcome addiction and mental health disorders.

Some other common components in a treatment plan may include:

  • Co-occurring condition treatment that takes on mental health and addiction together
  • Medications, when necessary
  • Acknowledging the connection between mental health and substances and learning to manage both together


Co-Occurring Disorders are Complex

If you have co-occurring conditions, you may feel like you’re spiraling out of control, and the two conditions won’t always seem connected at first glance. But as you dig deeper, it becomes clear just how complex co-occurring disorders are and why people who have them so often need compassionate, professional support. Don’t handle them alone. Jonas Hill is here to help. You will be heard here.


Jonas Hill Hospital & Clinic a division of Caldwell Memorial Hospital provides our community with safe, dignified and integrated care for adult patients experiencing an acute mental health need. We provide hope, treatment, and healing through a holistic program of evidence-based psychiatric treatment, team-based medical care, and education provided by engaging and dedicated professionals in a safe and healing environment. Contact Jonas Hill Hospital and Clinic today at (828) 394-6722 for more information.