What Does it Mean to Have Co-Occurring Disorders?

People with Substance Use Disorders, as well as mental health disorders, are diagnosed as having co-occurring disorders. In the past, this was called dual diagnosis.

Substance Use Disorder is diagnosed when substance use interferes with functioning at work, school, and in social relationships. It is also diagnosed when substance use creates or worsens a medical condition or when substance use occurs in dangerous situations.

In addiction treatment, therapists acknowledge that substance use is not a sign of moral deficiency. Rather, it is a combination of underlying mental health disorders and overt addictions to one or more substances. Because both conditions influence one another, therapists must address them equally with pinpointed modalities.

The presence of a Co-Occurring Disorder calls for a treatment protocol that fully acknowledges the mental health issue. Healing from Substance Use Disorder occurs by treating the mental health disorder at the same time. The most common mental health disorders found in people with a co-occurring Substance Use Disorder include Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Other mental health diagnoses seen in conjunction with various addictive patterns are Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), Eating Disorders and Personality Disorders.

Co-occurring disorders can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms of Substance Use can mask symptoms of mental health issues. Symptoms of mental health disorders can be confused with symptoms of addiction. People with mental health disorders sometimes do not address their substance use because they don’t believe it is relevant to their problems.

Some typical patterns that emerge among people with Co-Occurring disorders are:

  • People diagnosed with mental health disorders often use substances to feel better;
  • People who are anxious may want something to make them feel calm;
  • People who are depressed may want something to make them feel more animated;
  • People who are fearful of others may want something to make them feel more relaxed and less inhibited; and
  • People who are in psychological pain may want something to make them feel numb.

Using alcohol or other drugs fails to correct the mental health disorder. It also prevents a person from developing effective coping skills, having satisfying relationships, and feeling comfortable with themselves. The use of substances also interferes with medications prescribed for mental health disorders. In the end, drug and alcohol use makes mental health disorders worse.

People with Co-Occurring disorders may stop using alcohol or other drugs, but they will find difficulties as the symptoms of their mental health disorders persist. Treatment centers, mutual aid groups, and addiction specialists may not be prepared to address both conditions. As a result, people with Co-Occurring disorders may find it difficult to treat Substance Use Disorder without also treating their mental health disorders.

Co-occurring mental health and Substance Use Disorders impact one another and must be treated simultaneously for effective outcomes. Treating both disorders at the same time, in the same place, by the same treatment team is called integrated treatment.

Healing Springs Ranch offers a complete lifestyle transformation for the most successful recovery. Call Healing Springs Ranch at 866-647-4606 to overcome these issues in a safe way.

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