Involving persons with co-occurring disorders and their families in the assessment and treatment process can enhance the effectiveness of those services and yield better outcomes. Consumer involvement promotes self-determination, choice, and empowerment, all of which are important to achieving and sustaining recovery. Support from family and friends and satisfying relationships with them are also important elements of recovery.
Consumer involvement in the recovery process encompasses:
- increased self-determination for individuals with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders, such as through the promotion of choice and decision-making regarding what services are in the treatment plan, and who provides them
- expanded involvement in policy, planning and service provision in behavioral health systems and programs.
Strategies for involving consumers include:
- Self-directed care in which informed consumers assess their own needs, determine how and by whom these needs should be met, and monitor the quality of the services they receive
- Consumer-operated services which are operated and administratively controlled by consumers and generally emphasize self-help
- Peer support services which are delivered by consumers, and may or may not be consumer operated
- Mutual support groups, such as12-step programs
- Consumer advocacy — involvement in policy and planning activities at all levels
Families are important sources of support for individuals with co-occurring disorders. However, the impact of co-occurring disorders on families can be severe and stressful. Supporting them through provision of information about co-occurring disorders and its treatment and helping them to develop coping, communication and problem-solving skills can improve both their well-being and their ability to support family members with co-occurring disorders.
Strategies for involving and supporting families include:
- Family Psychoeducation
- Volunteer peer-based family education programs
- Family therapy and consultations
- Linkage with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and local support organizations
Women with co-occurring disorders who have children need specialized services that take their role as a mother into account and also address the needs of their children.
Family involvement in treatment is essential for youth who rely on them as a major source of support. Services and treatment are more effective when they are guided by the particular needs and perspectives of youth and their families.
Resources and Links
This website offers a collection of recovery stories to provide examples of positive outcomes for people with mental illness and co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. The stories are told by consumers, family members, and other supporters of recovery such as employers and direct service providers.