Untangling the Web of Addiction: Overcoming Challenges

Untangling the Web of Addiction: Overcoming Challenges Toward Treatment


(Part 2 in a 4-part series)

By: Madeline Kelly, LPCC, NCC, LADC, CCTP.
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor.
Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor

Some people thrive when faced with challenges. Others experience challenges as roadblocks that seem too difficult to overcome. For those who struggle with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, challenges can feel insurmountable and often become barriers to treatment. Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression fuel substance abuse, creating a web that is difficult to untangle without proper treatment.

A guiding and supportive advocate can help remove barriers. If you or someone you know is having trouble finding a treatment solution or sticking with it, here are some essential steps toward assessment, treatment, and long-term recovery.

Step one – The initial conversation

Despite the high number of individuals who suffer with mental health issues, mental illness is still stigmatized, making it difficult to recommend treatment to someone who needs care. Some may be in denial and defensive. Starting the conversation can feel daunting. When you do begin the conversation, avoid blaming or pointing fingers. Let the person know they are not alone, and you see their hurt. When the initial conversation is executed with compassion, love, and grace, there’s a better chance of success.

Other suggestions to ensure the conversation goes as smoothly as possible:

  • Identify an appropriate time and place to have the conversation
  • Express concerns and be direct
  • Acknowledge their feelings and listen
  • Offer to help
  • Be patient

More details to help start a conversation available in this printable resource from SAMHSA – the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Step two - The assessment process

If you suspect that someone needs treatment for a mental health condition and substance abuse, it is important to receive a “dual diagnosis” before treatment can begin. In the state of Minnesota, an assessment is available called a “Rule 25 Assessment.” Any clinic that offers treatment for substance use disorders will be able to conduct a Rule 25 (or a related type of assessment called a “Comprehensive Assessment.”) For those who are eligible, the State of Minnesota pays for this assessment, which leads to a treatment recommendation.

The assessment will cover drug and alcohol use history, medical history, emotional health, home environment, and potential risk for relapse or continued substance use. Your assessor will determine the appropriate level of care. The “Comprehensive Assessment” is the same as a Rule 25 Assessment, plus it determines the best level of care and provides prescribed treatment. Your assessor will provide guidance toward the appropriate level of care.

Step three – Treatment options

Once a dual diagnosis is confirmed, the process to find treatment begins.

There are many treatment programs in the community for substance use. A truly co-occurring treatment program for those with a dual diagnosis, addresses both the mental health and the substance use disorders equally during treatment. Treating one without the other might be successful; however, if an individual has a dual diagnosis, or suspects one, a Dual Diagnosis treatment program is the best option.

[Learn more about the CFS Adult Dual-Diagnosis Intensive Outpatient Program here.]

When it comes time to commit to a treatment program, many barriers tend to develop:

  • Logistical problems such as inadequate insurance, lack of transportation or insufficient housing are barriers to treatment.
  • No community support from family and friends can also be a challenge and interfere with starting treatment.

How these barriers are handled can make a difference in long-term recovery success.

At Christian Family Solutions (CFS), the Dual Diagnosis Program clinicians help overcome barriers to treatment by referring clients to an on-site Program Treatment Coordinator. The coordinator’s primary goal is to access community resources for eliminating barriers. The CFS Behavioral Health Home Service (BHH) is also available to access medical, social and community support services. These certified providers coordinate care across all service needs.

Part 3 of this series will inform you of the differences in dual diagnosis treatment solutions so that you can choose the most appropriate option for yourself or to refer someone you know. Untangling the Web of Addiction: Effective Treatment Solutions

headshot of Madeline Kelly

Madeline Kelly is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who works with the CFS Adult Dual Diagnosis Intensive Outpatient Program in the CFS clinic in Mankato, MN. She specializes in working with individuals who struggle with co-occurring mental health and chemical dependency issues.

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