Diagnosis & treatment

Co-occurring mental health illnesses are present in about half of the patients that are also struggling with substance use disorders. With the demand for care far exceeding the supply of mental health providers, accessibility is a major issue in every community in which Sunrise operates. For these reasons, Sunrise obtained the additional certification to provide mental health services in-house.  Regardless, we’re still happy to coordinate care for our patients with existing mental health providers or refer to other outside providers as needed.

Additional mental health services at Sunrise are only for patients currently in treatment at Sunrise for a substance use disorder. Services include complete diagnostic and biopsychosocial assessments with both clinical and medical professionals. Treatment with psychotherapeutic prescription medications is initiated where indicated and appropriate under the direction of our medical team. Follow-up sessions at varying intervals with both the therapist and our medical team continue to set treatment plan goals, titrate medication to proper dosages, monitor progress and adjust treatment when necessary.

Sometimes symptoms of an underlying physical health problem can be confused as a mental health diagnosis. If that is a concern, then referrals will be made to outside primary care providers for additional evaluation and testing. Additionally, we see a lot of instances where past mental health diagnoses were made improperly, especially in situations where a person was actively using at the time. Patients need to remain open to reconsidering these past diagnoses, then, as part of their diagnostic evaluation.

         Ultimately, the primary goals with every patient are threefold:

 1. Make an accurate diagnosis

    2. Determine an effective course of treatment

   3. Stabilize the patient with a combination of therapy and medication (where indicated)

Once those goals are accomplished, care is continued until such time that the substance use treatment services are concluded or referral is made to an outside mental health provider for ongoing care. Given that we’re always working towards the goal of successfully completing substance use treatment services for every patient, the referral to an outside provider for ongoing mental healthcare may occur early in the process to avoid any disruption of services at a later date.

There are certainly situations where patients are abusing or addicted to multiple substances. Other treatment modalities for opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder can still be utilized on a case by case basis in the situation where other drugs are also being used. It is not uncommon for a person in such a circumstance, though, to require initial treatment, detoxification and stabilization in an inpatient or residential setting before stepping down to an outpatient level of care to continue their treatment. This is especially true for someone who has become dependent on benzodiazepines or barbiturates as both of those substances have a risk of serious, complicated and potentially fatal withdrawal syndromes.

More Information

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use & Health, 47.6 million adults in America age 18 and older had some form of mental illness. Of those, 9.2 million also had a substance use disorder, which is nearly half of the total number of people struggling with addiction. It cannot be denied that there is a high rate of co-occurring mental health illnesses in the population of people struggling with substance use disorders.

Unfortunately, there are several barriers to care for patients in this situation. Accessibility is limited by:

Due to these ongoing challenges, Sunrise pursued and achieved certification in 2018 to provide additional mental health services in-house to our substance use disorder patients with co-occurring mental health diagnoses. By combining the expertise of our medical team with our qualified mental health clinicians, we have significantly reduced these barriers to care. Such a holistic approach significantly improves patient health and well-being by providing the additional care necessary for them to be stable in treatment and make progress on their treatment goals.

Sunrise is always looking for community providers to collaborate with and refer to in order to assist our patients in maintaining their mental health care long term.

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