Inside Our Integrated Approach to Dual Diagnosis Care

May 28, 2024Blog

Each May, Mental Health Awareness Month allows us to shine a spotlight on the profound impact of mental health on individuals, communities and society at large. In the realm of mental health and addiction treatment, addressing dual diagnosis—simultaneous mental health disorders and substance abuse—requires a multifaceted approach. Dual diagnosis presents unique challenges, as each condition can exacerbate the symptoms and progression of the other, leading to a vicious cycle of self-medication and deteriorating mental health.

Integrated dual diagnosis treatment offers a holistic framework that recognizes and addresses both mental health and substance use disorders concurrently. By combining evidence-based therapies, medication management, and psychosocial support, integrated treatment aims to promote comprehensive healing and long-term recovery.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Alexandra Richards, PMHNP-BC understands the importance of building a rapport with dual diagnosis patients, and that relationship starts shortly after admission when Richards sits down with each patient to complete an assessment and psych evaluation. “Each patient I see is unique, and the assessment helps me figure out the best way to address their individual needs and communicate the importance of psychotherapy, medication, or both,” says Richards. “I put a lot of emphasis on letting patients know that they are active decision makers in their mental health treatment plans, and this helps build trust and makes them more open to receiving treatment.” 

Dual diagnosis often coexists with a history of trauma, and these patients are particularly vulnerable to crisis situations. In response to this, Richards has developed a comprehensive crisis intervention training for all staff, which equips them with the skills and strategies needed to de-escalate crises, ensure safety, and facilitate appropriate interventions.

“We have many different personalities in our patient population, and it’s important for staff to know how to intervene to ensure the safety of everyone: the patient in crisis, other patients, and staff members,” says Richards. “The staff training teaches de-escalation techniques designed to defuse volatile situations and promote calmness and cooperation,” Richards continues. “Proper crisis intervention can enhance the quality of care, reduce hospitalizations and improve patient outcomes, all of which are at the forefront of our goals as an addiction treatment provider.”

With the opening of the Hudson outpatient center at the end of this summer, Richards explains how her involvement will progress throughout the continuum of care. “I’ll be working in both the inpatient and outpatient settings, fostering patient relationships, and ensuring that patients stick with their treatment plans. Hudson is doing great things in our community, and it’s rewarding to have such a positive impact on populations challenged with mental health and addiction.”

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Alexandra Richards leading a crisis intervention training for staff

About us

Hudson Behavioral Health was formed in 1980 (as Hudson Health Services, Inc.) to bring the first residential recovery program to the Eastern Shore. Today, thousands of patients later, we remain the leader in recovery programs and resources, with our staff of 100 committed to serving each patient as an individual.