Co-Occurring Disorders and Substance Use Disorders– How do they relate?

We hear a lot about Co-occurring disorders but what is it?

A Co-occurring disorder is the presence of both mental health and a substance-use disorder. For example, an opioid substance use disorder coupled with depression is a common co-occurring disorder.

Clients with co-occurring disorders (COD) typically have one or more disorders relating to the abuse of alcohol and/or drugs as well as one or more mental disorders. A client can be described as having co-occurring disorders when at least one disorder of each type can be established independent of the other and is not simply a cluster of one’s symptoms.

Symptoms of co-occurring disorders:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Hopelessness
  • A lack of motivation or fear of public places

Co-occurring disorders can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms of a substance abuse disorder can mask the symptoms of mental illness, and vice versa. People with co-occurring disorders often experience more severe and chronic medical, social, and emotional problems that people experiencing a mental health condition or substance use disorder alone. Because of co-occurring disorders, they are vulnerable to both relapse and a worsening of the psychiatric disorder.  Mental health is almost impossible to achieve while treating substance abuse, therefore it is crucial to treat both congruently.

Signs of co-occurring disorders:

  • An inability to maintain employment
  • An inability to maintain functional relationships
  • Legal problems
  • Financial issues
  • Extreme mood swings or an inability to control emotions

Treatment must be specifically designed for the unique needs of people with co-occurring disorders. The treatment and care for those diagnosed with co-occurring disorders are more extensive because of the intensity of crisis and their progress is slower.

What Causes a co-occurring disorder?

Mental health and substance use disorders often occur as a result of biological and environmental factors manifestation. Both types of disorders are greatly influenced by several factors, including genetic susceptibility, environment, and substance abuse. Some people have a genetic risk for these disorders; some environmental situations create risks that can help to sustain these disorders

People with mental health disorders have an increased experience an alcohol or substance use disorder. Mental illness can lead people to use alcohol or drugs to make themselves feel better temporarily. In other cases, a substance-abuse disorder triggers or in some other way leads to severe emotional and mental distress.

Holistic integrated Treatment

To provide appropriate treatment for co-occurring disorders, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends an integrated treatment approach. An integrated treatment coordinates a treatment plan that addresses the whole person, rather than treating each disorder separately and without consideration for the other.

Integrated treatment occurs when a person receives combined treatment for mental illness and substance use from the same clinician or treatment team. It helps people develop hope, knowledge, skills, and the support they need to manage their problems and to pursue meaningful life goals.

A holistic Integrated treatment plan may include the following:

  • Relapse Prevention and Life Skills
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Steps to Recovery
  • Vocational Mentoring
  • Trauma/Mental Health Education

Healing Springs Ranch offers successful strategies for clients with COD. All treatment programs at Healing Springs Ranch include appropriate procedures for screening, assessing, and referrals for clients with CODs.

The types of programs we offer include:

  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Family program
  • Short-term residential treatment
  • Group Therapies
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

Healing Springs Ranch will work together with you to balance your physical and mental states because we understand how important it is for your whole person to be well, not just your addiction. Call us today.

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