Understanding Co-Occurring Disorders

Many women learn to live free of their symptoms and maintain recovery from addiction or an eating disorder through a combination of outpatient psychiatric care, individual and group therapy, and participation in mutual support groups.

Other women and families, despite their efforts to seek the best care, continue to suffer through years of heartache and turmoil caused by repeated relapses…

…sometimes requiring multiple hospital stays, which only address a woman’s immediate medical complications

…sometimes leading to repeated unsuccessful stays at a rehab center or sober living facility…

…putting tremendous emotional strain on her and her loved ones, draining a family’s financial resources…

… All resulting in worsened feelings of shame and self-loathing, which make symptoms even more severe.

Overcoming Relapses Requires Looking At All Aspects of a Woman’s Health

Experience has taught us that many women struggle to recover from eating disorders or drug abuse not because of lack of desire or effort, but because of inadequate treatment or other mental health conditions.

We refer to these psychiatric conditions or addictions, which may not have been identified or treated successfully in the past, as co-occurring disorders. Many rehab centers don’t understand how co-occurring disorders may contribute to the progression of drug dependency or an eating disorder. A woman may also develop one or more co-occurring addictions as she attempts to soothe symptoms of her eating disorder, long-term substance abuse, or another mental health condition.

Given how these conditions often compromise a resident’s chances of maintaining recovery, Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center emphasizes early identification of co-occurring disorders.

Regardless of her symptoms and past diagnosis, we assess each woman throughout her stay in residential treatment and look for signs of commonly co-existing psychiatric conditions such as:

  • depression
  • bipolar disorder
  • eating disorders
  • panic and anxiety disorders
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • obsessive compulsive personality disorder (which is different from OCD)
  • borderline personality disorder
  • sleep disorders
  • substance abuse or dependence

Getting to the Roots of Repeated Relapse

The staff at Timberline Knolls designed our residential treatment center specifically to address the special recovery needs of women who have suffered relapses due to co-occurring disorders.

Expert Multi-disciplinary Treatment Teams

Our integrated team of psychiatrists, internal medicine physicians, nurses and therapists are not only experts in eating disorder treatment and drug addiction recovery, they also possess extensive expertise treating other psychiatric, psychological and medical conditions that contribute to dependence on drugs. We assess each woman’s entire history of symptoms, as well as symptoms of pain, anxiety, trauma and depression. Assessment of one recognized condition may uncover related addictions, such as prescription drug dependence or eating disorders that may have originated prior to an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or from her efforts to conceal chemical dependency and manage its symptoms.

Each woman is assigned a treatment team with the experience needed to identify and interpret a wide range of symptoms common in women facing eating disorders or substance abuse:

  • Primary therapist
  • Family therapist
  • Psychiatrist (MD)
  • Internal medicine physician (MD)
  • Addiction specialist or eating disorders specialist
  • Registered dietician (RD)

Collaboration is Essential to Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders

Close collaboration among the medical, clinical and support staff is one of the distinguishing benefits of a leading residential treatment center like Timberline Knolls. Successful chemical dependency or eating disorder treatment also requires proactive communication among the Timberline Knolls treatment staff and the resident, her loved ones, and her home treatment providers. Our reputation for fostering a collaborative partnership among these parties is one of the reasons leading outpatient eating disorder and addiction treatment specialists recommend Timberline Knolls to patients who need more intensive, therapeutic support to overcome repeated relapses.

Rigorous Assessment Begins Before Admission

Our collaborative approach will be noticeable to a woman and her loved ones early on in our admissions process. We ask both the woman and her family to provide information about her symptoms, obstacles in work or school, and challenges with friends or family. We also request her permission to communicate with previous substance abuse or eating disorders treatment providers. This allows us to gather additional information about medical history, psychiatric history, past treatment progress, and stumbling blocks to achieving or maintaining recovery.

Bringing Our Full Expertise to Every Resident’s Treatment

Upon admission, every Timberline Knolls resident undergoes a comprehensive medical and psychiatric assessment. The findings from each treatment team member are integrated and reviewed with our entire clinical staff, including other therapists and psychiatrists.

As a result, our full knowledge is integrated into each woman’s treatment plan. She can take ownership of treatment with confidence that the skills she’s learning to practice not only address an eating disorder or drug addiction, but also equip her to deal with emotions triggered by other co-occurring psychiatric disorders.

Coordination Throughout Her Stay

Each resident’s treatment team will meet weekly throughout her stay, and when authorized , will continue to provide regular updates to her outpatient treatment providers. Members also consult each other informally as often as needed to monitor her progress and to make sure her recovery needs are being fully supported.

Treatment team members may recognize symptoms of co-occurring disorders at any point during a woman’s stay in residential treatment. For adolescent women in particular, it may take several months for signs of a co-existing mental health condition to be properly recognized. This requires not only observation of a woman during formal therapy, but also attention to her relations with peers in her living environment and interaction with teachers in a classroom setting.

Our clinical support staff, who are often with a woman when new symptoms appear, are fully educated in co-occurring disorders. They are trained not only to offer a woman support, but also to collect and convey this critical information to the rest of her treatment team.

When new symptoms of a co-occurring disorder appear, a woman may undergo additional psychological testing or medical evaluation. The results often allow her treatment team to make adjustments to her treatment program that result in life-changing breakthroughs.

Holistic Treatment Strengthens the Whole Person

Lifelong recovery is possible if a woman’s treatment addresses the complexities of co-occurring disorders. Our individualized residential treatment programs are designed with the needs of women with co-occurring disorders in mind. Beyond education about their disease and instruction about the process of recovery, we also promise to provide each resident with:

  • compassion, understanding and practical recovery coaching from staff that recognizes the crucial step she has taken by seeking help at a residential treatment center
  • input into the objectives of treatment and ownership of her recovery process
  • encouragement in the process of spiritual renewal and self-awareness
  • emotional support to develop awareness of how addiction has impacted her life and relationships with loved ones
  • continuous attention to her health and to any complications from long-term substance abuse
  • support in working to heal relationships with family through weekly family systems therapy

Our integrated approach strengthens the five core aspects of the self that a woman will harness to re-connect with her true self, heal broken relationships with loved ones, and sustain herself in life-long recovery:

  • Mind
  • Body
  • Spirit
  • Emotions
  • Social Relationships

Tapping in to a newfound strength, along with the unconditional acceptance of a therapeutic recovery community, helps residents break free of the toxic shame that may result from relapses after attending past drug rehab programs or eating disorder treatment centers.

Like persons in recovery from an eating disorder or addiction, a woman suffering with co-occurring disorders can realize the same beauty of a full life. If you or a loved one has experienced a relapse, we encourage you to reach out for help. We can help you determine whether residential treatment for eating disorders, substance abuse or mood disorders might help you or your loved one find and sustain life-long recovery.

Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center accepts women and girls (ages 12 and up) for admission seven days a week.

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