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Treating More Than Just the Symptoms

Symptoms are typically the body’s way of signaling for help. Certain symptoms help to give clues to what the root of the problem is. However, if the root of the problem is never treated, the symptoms are more likely to persist. This applies to all medical issues, including mental illness and substance use disorders (SUDs). If the root of the problem is not treated, how can it ever be expected to heal?

Understanding Symptoms

Symptoms are red flags that our bodies send to notify us that something is wrong. These symptoms can sometimes be subtle and hard to catch, while others can be blatantly obvious. The type of symptoms usually depends on the source of the problem. Symptoms do not typically occur randomly or alone; they’re often indicative of a problem that needs treatment.

Unfortunately, many mental conditions include overlapping symptoms. It can be tough for even an educated layperson to tell the difference between a severe anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As such, a qualified clinician should thoroughly examine all symptoms present, when and how they show up, and the frequency. Identifying the root cause could ultimately save someone’s life.

The Overlapping Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders

Understanding mental health symptoms become more complex when comorbidities are taken into account. A research report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, “When two disorders or illnesses occur in the same person, simultaneously or sequentially, they are described as comorbid. Comorbidity also implies that the illnesses interact, affecting the course and prognosis of both.” Technically, comorbidities can include any two conditions that interact. Often, comorbidities refer to SUD and mental disorders, though.

People with SUD often also have underlying, unaddressed mental disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, or schizophrenia. Genetic components, external factors such as stressors, and lingering mental disorders can influence a person’s likelihood of developing a SUD. NIDA also cautions that “[t]he diagnosis and treatment of comorbid substance use disorders and mental illness are complex, because it is often difficult to disentangle overlapping symptoms.” This is similar to the difficulty we previously discussed in distinguishing between mental conditions.

Getting to the Root of Substance Use

If someone uses substances to relieve emotional turmoil, it’s important to get to the root of why that turmoil exists. What caused it? When did it occur? How has that traumatic event influenced the person over their lifetime? The same applies to unhealthy thought patterns underlying substance use. When did the thoughts start? What environmental factors may’ve influenced the thoughts? If the root cause of SUD can be explored and dealt with, the client will have a much higher chance of sustaining and maintaining a healthy recovery.

Treating More Than Just the Symptoms

Whole-person health is a vital component of dealing with mental health disorders and SUD. This concept insists on treating every aspect of a person’s wellness. The National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) confirms, “Whole person health involves looking at the whole person—not just separate organs or body systems—and considering multiple factors that promote either health or disease.”

Sometimes this requires multiple clinicians within various specialties to come together to enforce an effective plan of care. The more support the client can receive, the more tools they can gain, which can empower and equip them to know that recovery is possible and achievable. Additionally, it may involve engaging in holistic health practices.

How Sage Recovery Can Help

Here at Sage Recovery, our treatment philosophy insists that treating the root of the symptom is vital to a healthy recovery. As a result, we offer a wide range of treatment options so that each person can receive the individualized treatment they deserve. Each person and situation is different. Our licensed clinicians are trained in traditional, evidence-based treatment approaches as well as innovative techniques.

Common Types of Treatment

Traditional treatments are evidence-based and have been proven to yield positive results. While results and types of treatment offered will vary on a case-by-case basis, the most common type of therapy used is psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. Psychotherapy provides the client with a safe space to talk with a licensed professional and process any trauma they may have experienced. This type of therapy might also include techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Moreover, we may offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Innovative Approaches to Treatment

Our holistic, innovative approaches allow us to complement the traditional treatment techniques to find one that suits you.

One example of a unique treatment we offer includes equine therapy. Equine therapy is a form of psychotherapy that provides clients with a safe place and a licensed professional to process while taking care of horses. The journal NursingOpen discovered that clients who participate in equine therapy can experience, “improved balance, well‐being, quality of life, trust, spasticity, self‐efficacy, self‐esteem, nurse presence, pleasure and a sense of accomplishment.”

Other forms of innovative treatment could include ones that allow the client to express themselves creatively, like art therapy or music therapy. Clinicians might also recommend techniques that promote physical activity and mindfulness, such as yoga.

Symptoms present throughout your life indicate that there’s an underlying issue needing attention. Here at Sage Recovery, we pride ourselves on treating more than just symptoms. We like to find out what’s underneath your SUD or mental illnesses. All of our therapists are highly trained to provide trauma-informed care. This allows us to help you through unresolved issues from the past. Our staff is ready and willing to guide you on this sometimes painful part of healing. Additionally, at our facility, individualized care plans and innovative treatment options provide you with agency over your healing process. With our help, you can start down the path to long-term recovery. Reach out to us at (512) 306-1394