How Does Outpatient Care Support Someone with a Dual Diagnosis?

posted in Our Services, Treatment


Finding the right treatment program for a loved one with addiction is a challenge. There are many things they might need: treatment for mental health issues, support for detox, medical and health issues, and a host of other factors. Treatment is not one-size-fits-all. In fact, people often need many different methods and modes of treatment on their journey to healing from addiction. Co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnosis, creates complexity in treatment and complicates things. This means individuals need to approach their treatment as an individual to better serve their needs. Outpatient care can provide the right level of care for the appropriate candidate, given some criteria are met for their recovery.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment programs work with an individual to seek help by providing flexible scheduling. They care for them by giving high levels of care outside the four walls of an inpatient facility. Some form of stability is needed for them as they don’t have the boundaries of an inpatient program to better serve them. Outpatient care may involve psychotherapy and counseling. A visit with a medical doctor or psychiatrist may be involved, as well as a meeting with a registered dietitian. Support groups are another aspect of outpatient care that keeps people connected to individuals who will encourage ongoing sobriety and recovery support. There are varying levels of support groups from 12-step to community-based groups. Outpatient allows space to work with others in a safe space to be vulnerable enough to seek help but do not have to stay somewhere that requires long-term care. 

Professional Support

Professionals who work with treatment and recovery work in outpatient programs to better serve the individuals needing help. When it comes to co-occurring disorders, their needs are of primary concern. Without serving those needs, they often don’t get the healing they need from addiction. It is important to work with professionals in all aspects of care. This might mean:

  • Specialized assessment
  • Psychiatric care
  • Psychologists and therapists 
  • Individualized treatment plans that are trauma-informed and sensitive to their needs

A comprehensive plan can be drawn up that works with their needs and assesses all their goals for treatment. Outpatient care is appropriate if the person can pass the initial screenings to verify they are stable enough to be served by the outpatient care services. There are lots of benefits to receiving outpatient care, especially with a dual diagnosis. 

Benefits of Care

Outpatient care may be helpful for people who can and are able, to respond to treatment while staying at home. If they are not able to be at home while working, going to school, or living in their environment, it may be time to reassess their care plan. Outpatient levels of care work for people who are not triggered to use substances while at home. If there are people, places, and things that constantly trigger them, this may be too much to cope with early on. Unless they live in a sober house while in treatment, or find some other level of care, they may not be able to find a healthy way to stay sober and clean while in outpatient care. With less supervision, the person must be able to attend all sessions of care (transportation and desire to attend is essential) and get to their appointments. Inpatient care provides all this on-site, but it may be better to do outpatient for various reasons. Co-occurring disorders are severe and complex by nature. Regular support and treatment help maintain recovery for the long haul. 

Why It Matters

Co-occurring disorders are severe and complex by nature. Regular support and treatment help maintain recovery for the long haul. Dual diagnosis can be a difficult journey for people in recovery without the right treatment plan to give them appropriate goals and care. The best way to find healing from addiction with mental health challenges is to find a program that offers intensive levels of care and provides the right tools to cope with stress and triggers on a daily basis. 

Looking Ahead

The view ahead for someone with dual diagnosis feels challenging at first. In addition to addiction, they need consistent, available care for their diagnoses. This might mean getting an official diagnosis for the first time, or treating other conditions that arise. They may not realize how much they need medication or assistance in caring for their mental health as well as taking care of addiction. There are myriad ways to deal with this but mostly they need attentive care to their spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being while caring for their mental health, as well. Family support is crucial and they should be involved as much as is healthy for the loved one. As needed, there will be family counseling offered in many outpatient programs so they can attend their needs throughout treatment and can be available to support their goals. The key is to make sure they have what they need and get long-term treatment goals in place that support their recovery. With this focus in mind, they ought to have an easier time navigating recovery as long as they have the support of a treatment program, professionals, and their loved ones behind them. 

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