A co-occurring disorder is when a patient is diagnosed with a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder occurring at the same time. This type of diagnosis is called Dual Diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders require specialized care and treatment for the patient to experience real recovery.
Possible Causes of Co-occurring Disorders
Mental health disorders that occur simultaneously with substance use disorders include depression, anxiety, bi-bolar disorder, and schizophrenia. We often find that co-occurring disorders rise from one of two situations. First, someone who suffers from a substance use disorder for an extended period of time may find that mental health issues arise naturally as a byproduct.
In these cases, we often find that treating the substance use disorder directly has a significant impact on the mental health of the patient. That means treatment can focus more specifically on substance use and spend less time focusing on mental health issues.
On the other hand, substance use disorders can occur as a result of a mental health disorder. We often find that those suffering from a mental health disorder tend to self-treat their painful symptoms with illicit drugs or alcohol. It’s common to find depression or anxiety co-occurring with alcohol use disorder.
Recognizing Co-occurring Disorders
It’s often difficult to recognize a co-occurring disorder in a loved one. The symptoms of the mental health issues can be clouded by the symptoms of the substance use disorder.
In many cases, a co-occurring disorder can be the result of a stressful work environment, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or other stress-inducing life experience. As a result, unstable moods can be a sign of or contributor to a developing co-occurring disorder.
This is why a dual-diagosis patient must be treated in a special environment with those trained to target this type of disorder.
Some symptoms of mental health issues or co-occurring disorders may be:
- changes in appetite or energy
- loss of enthusiasm for work or friends
- increase in irritability and anger
- restlessness or difficulty relaxing without the assistance of a substance
- uncontrollable anxiety or worries
- racing thoughts and anxious physical ticks
- changes or reduction in sleep habits
- feelings of hopelessness or despair
- thoughts of suicide or self-harm
Treatment for Co-occurring Disorders
We know that it takes special techniques to treat co-occurring disorders. We partner with licensed detox facilities when this type of treatment is necessary. Our staff are available and present 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to work with and help our clients. We also employ licensed counselors and therapists who are trained to work with those affected by co-occurring disorders.
When medications are called for, we make every attempt to use medications that are not addictive. Proper medication for co-occurring disorders reduces the risk of relapse.