Comorbid substance use: What treatments are available?

One of the biggest challenges relating to comorbid substance abuse is that patients tend to suffer a poor level of treatment adherence as a result of mental health issues impacting the recovery process. Comorbidity is the term that describes simultaneous medical conditions present in a patient at the same time.

pills and drugs through on a red table

This means it often requires a two-pronged approach to find a viable solution when it comes to treating comorbid substance abuse effectively.

Options such as outpatient rehab can often prove invaluable in finding a suitable pathway to a permanent recovery solution. Here is a look at some of the treatments available to tackle comorbid substance abuse.


Age is a factor when it comes to treatment options

It has been shown that adolescents are more susceptible to developing mental health and behavioural problems in conjunction with a substance use disorder.

Young adults have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to comorbid mental health disorders. As their young brains struggle to cope with all the emotional and physical changes that come with adolescence it can create a so-called perfect storm that encapsulates what comorbidity is all about.

There are various treatment options that have been shown to be particularly effective for children and young adults.


Targeting antisocial behavioural problems

A treatment known as Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is used to focus on the key factors that are often linked to antisocial behaviour demonstrated by this age group who have substance use disorders.


Working on improving family interactions

Another therapy that might be suggested as a treatment option is Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT).

This takes a close look at family interactions and targets aspects of these interactions that could exacerbate behavioural problems and substance use issues.


Taking a multidimensional approach to finding a solution

A therapy known as Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) is characterised by the comprehensive nature of its intervention process.

It seeks to analyse every aspect of the patient’s risk factors and looks at their relationship issues and parental interactions in forensic detail.

This treatment involves not just the patient but family members too, in order to find a support solution that is going to produce positive results.


What sort of medications are used?

As well as therapy options, there are also medications that could help the treatment process.

There are effective medications available that are helpful in treating disorders for things such as alcohol, opioid, and nicotine use. Both Buprenorphine Naloxone and Buprenorphine Hydrochloride are regularly used to treat opioid disorders, for instance.

Using these in conjunction with suitable therapies is the sort of holistic approach that is often required in order to alleviate a comorbid substance use problem.


Other therapy options

More general therapy options such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Exposure Therapy to treat anxiety disorders may also be suggested as part of a treatment plan that is trying to cover all bases.

The therapy and medication options available can be complex and depend on individual circumstances. That is why it is always best to seek professional help so that the best care package and treatment option can be created.

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