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What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

People who have tried to find recovery from substance abuse in the past and have trouble staying clean and sober often wonder why it won’t stick. Co-occurring disorders are often the cause of this. When someone suffers from substance abuse, and there are underlying mental health conditions that are left untreated, or improperly treated, it can be detrimental to recovery from substance use disorder. Properly addressing these co-occurring disorders is crucial to a successful recovery.

Examples Common of Co-Occurring Disorders

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), co-occurring disorders are when mental health conditions coexist with substance use disorder in the same person at the same time. Some of the more common co-occurring disorders that affect numerous people from all age groups, and across all walks of life include anxiety disorders. Things like panic disorders and PTSD are more commonly seen in those who experience substance use disorders.

Depression, bipolar, psychosis, ADHD, personality disorders, and schizophrenia are also common conditions seen in those with co-occurring disorders. Proper treatment for all facets of these disorders is essential to finding peace, recovery, and being able to begin living a better, healthier life.

Effects of Substance Abuse On Mental Health

Substance abuse sometimes feels like a relief from the symptoms of mental health disorders. However, these co-occurring disorders actually feed off of each other. When someone uses substances while suffering from conditions like depression or anxiety, the symptoms can be exacerbated.

Many substances that are commonly abused, such as alcohol, are depressants. Someone who suffers from depression and is actively abusing alcohol can have heightened feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, or sadness. Someone who suffers from anxiety disorders and is using cocaine or methamphetamines can begin to experience worse levels of anxiety. 

The heightening of these symptoms can cause someone to increase the substances in an attempt to alleviate these heightened symptoms. It can be extremely difficult to endure the effects that mental health conditions exhibit. As a result, it is common for someone to self-medicate using substances and this can result in dependence. Proper diagnosis and treatment can end substance abuse and allow relief from mental health symptoms.

Effects of Mental Health On Substance Abuse

Suffering from mental health is an extremely difficult undertaking. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and panic disorders are prevalent among Americans. Those who suffer from these disorders come from all age groups and lifestyles. Mental health disorders can affect anyone at any time. 

When the symptoms of mental health conditions go untreated, either through lack of understanding, lack of resources, or due to the stigma surrounding mental health, people want to find relief- and fast! Oftentimes, using substances to find relief is common, resulting in substance abuse and subsequently, co-occurring disorders. Self-medicating the symptoms of mental health is one of the main reasons that people begin turning to drugs and alcohol. 

Untreated mental health conditions can be detrimental to someone’s life. Finding proper care and a plan to address the symptoms as well as the causes is the best plan of action to take in order to address co-occurring disorders. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, panic disorders, and schizophrenia are treatable through healthier means than harmful substances.

Treatment For Co-Occurring Disorders

Treatment methods for co-occurring disorders are available and can be extremely beneficial. When it comes to getting help, it is crucial to seek a professional staff that can address all parts of the co-occurring disorders. Treating these conditions separately is common, however, because they coexist, they should be treated together. Different treatment methods include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): a form of therapy that focuses on ways of thinking. Its core focus is to adjust the negative and detrimental processes of thinking into positive and productive thought processes.
  • Dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT): derived from CBT, this form of therapy focuses on how a person’s thought processes affect their emotions.
  • Assertive community treatment (ACT): this is a program created to assist those with persistent and life-altering conditions such as mental health and substance use disorders.

When receiving treatment for these conditions, it is crucial that the medical and mental health professionals work as a team. Co-occurring disorders should be treated together, and the treatment team should meet and discuss the options and provide a plan for the person who is struggling.

Begin the Healing Process

Co-occurring disorders can be hard to live with. The impacts on day-to-day life can be devastating, and it can be extremely difficult to cope as the disorders ravage the body and mind. However, it is possible to manage co-occurring disorders and begin to gain control back. If you or a loved one are struggling, Empowered Recovery Center can help. Our team of on-staff professionals can help and provide support as the next chapter starts.

Contact us, and begin realizing the benefits of healing.

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    Marietta, GA 30066

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