For the past twenty years professionals have debated whether it is more efficacious to treat mental health and substance abuse together or one at a time. We have tried it both ways. The mental health folks have spent months trying to stabilize clients before turning them over to the addiction specialists. And the substance abuse people have done the same, concentrating on assisting their clents to be clean and sober before dealing with their anxiety or bipolar disorders.
The perspective that is most difficult for professionals to understand is why we would not treat the whole person at once. Is this a case of dualing egos or perhaps an unfamiliarity with co-morbidity therapies? In either case, we must look at patient wellness first and foremost.
Meeting the patient where he or she is, may mean motivating someone to enter detox, while developing a plan that includes medication for mental health stabilization and individual therapy that addresses both issues.
Whatever works, may sound simplistic. And someimes that means abandoning a particular therapy for a more eclectic approach that is comprehensive in areas of mental health, substance abuse, pharmacotherapy, exercise and spirtuality. As non-traditional as this may sound, it may be what works for your particular patient.