It requires a great level of understanding to deal with mental health patients, more so if they are also battling a habit of substance abuse. Such patients often show reluctance in seeking the necessary treatment. A follow-up of such patients by using the expertise of a multidisciplinary unit of social workers may help lower the need for mandatory hospitalization, a study exploring the alternative ways to deal with them recently indicated.
The study titled “Patients in Norwegian Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams: Subjective Quality of Life and Inpatient Service Use” was originally aimed at ameliorating mental health provisioning for those struggling with serious diseases. The researchers stressed that the current system is inept to extend services to all those looking for assistance from the health and social services, prompting them to look for alternative ways to help provide patients the necessary relief.
Effectiveness of ACT plans
The researchers observed multidisciplinary treatment teams providing voluntary treatment to patients in 12 differing locations in Norway. The treatment involved psychologists, psychiatrists, social educators, nurses involved in psychiatric treatment and those specialized in treatment of substance abuse problems. The practitioners are involved in providing home visits to encourage their patients in solving their practical problems and analyzing their health conditions. Prima facie, the treatment options seemed to have had beneficial effects on the target patients.
The efficiency of the treatment lies in the fact that experts were able to provide home-based services at a time when mental rehabilitation centers are shutting down owing to financial crisis. The entire process with “coordination” as the theme central to it ensured proper treatment at the right place at the right time to the patients it had visited during the period of research. The researchers observed that the teams had also visited patients living in smaller towns and countryside communities.
One of the co-researchers, Hanne Clausen, said, “The helpers try to get the patients or clients integrated in their local environment. They build confidence and accompany them when they shop for groceries, apply for rent support or other benefits and services from the Norwegian health, welfare and employment services, NAV. They also treat them professionally for their mental disorders and/or substance abuse.”
The services made it possible for patients to get help at their doorstep instead of having to visit myriad municipal offices and agencies, which can be arduous even for those enjoying proper physical and mental health.
How ACT plans impacted patients
A detailed examination of the patients to assess if they were further hospitalized or admitted to any rehab and compare the results with the rate of hospitalization prior to the treatment process revealed that the number of admissions before and after had remained unchanged. However, the number of days spent during hospitalization by each patient post ACT went down by half when contrasted with the number of days before being treated under ACT. The researchers stated that the objective of ACT – reduced hospitalization rate – resonated with the purpose of every kind of mental health treatment provided at the rehabs.
The researchers considered the fact that those afflicted with psychiatric problems tended to abuse substances as well. While the patients under observation had been diagnosed with disorders requiring dual diagnosis treatment, those with alcohol and drug problems were also hospitalized for far fewer days than their peers who had not been treated under ACT, thus allowing the patients to be discharged quickly.
Recovery is just a call away
The idea of recovery must not be limited to those with the available resources. Both mental disorders and addictions can be the reason and outcome of one another. While screening patients for mental problems, it is necessary to inquire about their addictive habits as well. Similarly, while treating those afflicted with an addiction, it is imperative to determine if any accumulated stress, trauma or some other factor caused them to abuse drugs. A proper screening will help many patients get the necessary treatment for dual diagnosis.
Sovereign Health is a trusted name in the field of dual diagnosis and addiction treatment. Our El Paso facility is one of the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in Texas. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online to know more about our dual diagnosis rehab.
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