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Module 2 Key Learning Takeaways – Effective Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Module 2 Key Learning Takeaways – Effective Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

In this week’s lecture on substance abuse disorder and mental health disorders, I gained much knowledge about this disorder. The lecture explained in length and detail the subject matter, which is a global health concern. Through the support course textbooks and scholarly sources, the lecture was well-structured, from a solid introduction to basic principles of neural and brain function to details of the disorders. The discussions and assignments played a significant role in fostering understanding of the topic and sharing insights with others. Below is a background story of my mental health interest, three takeaways, and insights gained from this week’s discussion, lecture, and supplemental readings that I managed to gain.

My interest in mental health and substance abuse was sparked by the increased prevalence in my neighborhood. Many factors in our neighbourhood put the population at risk of mental and substance disorders, including mixed races, social-cultural factors, economic factors, and access to quality health services. I aim to gain the required knowledge and skills to help individuals suffering from these disorders in my community and the world. Through health promotion and prevention intervention, I can help reduce the prevalence of the disorder in my community.

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Preconception

I learned of my wrong preconception of mental health and substance abuse through this lecture. While growing up, I was accustomed to understanding that mental illness and substance use disorder result from moral failure, personal weakness, and lack of willpower. This has led to stigmatization and blaming of individuals struggling with addiction and discouraging them from seeking help. Through this lecture, I have learned these disorders involve complex changes in the chemistry and function of the brain. This week’s lecture explains different models that may cause substance use disorder from a functional brain perspective. Understanding this mechanism that leads to addiction may help reduce stigma among addicts and mental health patients (Subu et al., 2021).

Complexity of Co-Occurring Disorders

Learning the complexity of co-occurring disorders, specifically the relationship between mental health conditions and substance use disorders, was a privilege. According to the article by Flynn and Brown (2008), different factors contribute to these disorders, including infectious disease, unstable housing, unemployment, and family problems. Because of the interaction of these conditions, individuals with co-occurring disorders mostly have special changes in examination and treatment. This complexity underscores the importance of using an approach that is holistic and integrated to assess and treat, solving both mental health and substance use issues at the same time (Alvarez-Monjaras et al., 2018).

Use of Evidence-Based Interventions

While going through the learning material, I noted the emphasis put on using evidence-based interventions to treat co-occurring disorders. Approaches that have been researched, like integrated treatment models, have shown substantive impact in improving the outcomes of individuals suffering from co-occurring disorders. Evidence-based interventions demonstrate the need for continuous professional development and staying informed about recent study findings and best practices in the profession of substance use disorder counseling (Lovero et al., 2020).

Insights Gained from This Unit

Using a Holistic Approach

After attending this week’s lectures, I acknowledge the significance of using a holistic approach when managing clients with co-occurring disorders. There is increased morbidity related to the occurrence of co-occurring disorders; therefore, it is critical to identify the disorders and address both in an integrated treatment (Yule, 2019). A quadrant model may be used to assess and screen patients with these disorders since it is effective in categorizing patients with co-occurring disorders. An individual treatment plan should be specific to each disorder’s severity and for patient preference about the management. Yule (2019) notes that comprehensive, integrated treatment uses evidence-based practices and mixes all parts of a treatment plan, including pharmacological, psychological, educational, and social interventions.

Advocacy and Reduce Stigma

Upon realizing the stigma associated with co-occurring disorders, my responsibility goes way beyond conducting counseling sessions. Stigmatization can be a significant factor that may make individuals with these disorders avoid seeking medical attention. It is characterized by fear, exclusion, rejection, isolation, blame, discrimination, violence, and devaluation, basically as a result of misunderstandings of mental disorders (Subu et al., 2021). I must advocate for the formulation and implementation of policies that promote awareness to decrease the stigma associated with these conditions. Creating a supportive and non-judgmental environment is significant in enhancing help-seeking behavior in individuals who need help (Subu et al., 2021).

Continuous Learning

The field of mental health counseling is constantly evolving and dynamic, with new inventions and treatment method approaches emerging regularly (Mlambo et al., 2021). It is important to me that I continue providing the best quality care to my patients; therefore, I must obligate professional development and continuous learning. All healthcare professionals need to renew and update their skills in the healthcare setting. This is achieved through updating oneself with evidence-based practices, engaging in mental health workshops, and participating in consultation and supervision to enhance clinical skills (Mlambo et al., 2021).


In conclusion, I found this unit interesting and helpful in equipping me with relevant knowledge and skills to help me manage patients with co-occurring disorders. The lecture has helped me clear any perception about mental health, the complicated nature of co-occurring, and the use of evidence-based intervention in mental health, just to name a few. Lastly, the unit has instilled in me ideas on how I can improve my practice in the future by using a holistic approach, advocating for mental health patients, and continuous learning.


Alvarez-Monjaras, M., Mayes, L. C., Potenza, M. N., & Rutherford, H. J. (2018). A developmental model of addictions: integrating neurobiological and psychodynamic theories through the lens of attachment. Attachment & Human Development, 21(6), 616–637.

Flynn, P. M., & Brown, B. S. (2008). Co-occurring disorders in substance abuse treatment: Issues and prospects. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 34(1), 36–47.

Lovero, K. L., Giusto, A. M., & Wainberg, M. L. (2020). Evidence for the efficacy of psychosocial interventions in LMICs. The Lancet Psychiatry, 7(2), 113–114.

Mlambo, M., Silén, C., & McGrath, C. (2021). Lifelong learning and nurses’ continuing professional development, a metasynthesis of the literature. BMC Nursing, 20(62), 1–13.

Subu, M. A., Wati, D. F., Netrida, N., Priscilla, V., Dias, J. M., Abraham, M. S., Slewa-Younan, S., & Al-Yateem, N. (2021). Types of stigma experienced by patients with mental illness and mental health nurses in Indonesia: A qualitative content analysis. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 15(1), 1–12.

Yule, A. (2019). Integrating treatment for co-occurring mental health conditions. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, 40(1).


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Effective Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Effective Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Identify a minimum of three important takeaways from this week’s lecture, discussion, required and/or supplemental readings and materials.

Describe three insights that together form a considered reflection on what you have learned from the range of this unit’s learning.

These can describe (for example):

Advice or observations that stood out to you.
Something that had personal resonance for you.
Insights you gained on the professional practice of substance use disorder counseling.
A preconception that you discovered was unfounded.
Some inspiration for what you want to try to do (or not do) as a substance use disorder counselor, and why.
Length: 2-3 pages, not including title or reference page. The APA paper example is available in the Course Resources tab on the navigation bar. Paragraphs should be 5-7 sentences with a strong topic sentence (first sentence in paragraph). Try to have an in-text citation within the first few paragraphs (the first paragraph of a paper whenever possible.). Introduction, story background, 3-5 sub-topics, and a conclusion in a standard paper format.

References: Minimum of 3 scholarly peer-reviewed resources from the National University Library.

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