Co-occurring disorders are known by the term dual diagnosis. This type of diagnosis is especially serious as it involves both the diagnosis of a mental health disorder and an addiction. While these conditions are inherently separate, they do impact each other to a profound degree. Moreover, one illness may directly lead to the other in time. With simultaneous treatment for concurrent disorders, sufferers can manage these diseases to lead normal, productive, and enriching lives. However, without treatment, these chronic illnesses will not cure themselves; in fact, there is every reason to believe they will progress.
In the case of co-occurring disorders, one illness typically impacts the onset of the other, and either one may actually occur first. In the case of a mental illness, a sufferer may turn to drugs or alcohol to alleviate the anxiety, depression, or mania they feel due to their mental condition. When this use turns to abuse, as it often does, the sufferer is then at risk of developing an addiction. If an addiction occurs, the sufferer now has two separate co-existing disorders to combat.
Understanding Co-Occurring Disorders
When studying the co-occurring disorders definition it is clear to see the issue’s complexity. This condition is used to describe patients with substance abuse disorders and mental health disorders. It also can be referred to as dual disorders.
Substance abuse equates to being addicted to alcohol or drugs. A patient is diagnosed with a substance abuse problem when either one disrupts normal function at school, work, or within relationships. It also can exacerbate medical conditions and create dangerous physical situations.
An escalation of abuse is the dependency. This is when a patient has tried to curb or completely stop their addiction, however, their attempts have failed. They may have tried to stop on their own free will, with the help of family and friends or tried quitting at a treatment center. Coupled with dependency also may be a psychological dependence and that can increase their tolerance, thus creating withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit. The fear of withdrawal, which can be emotionally and physically straining, can discourage them from trying to quit again.
Most Common Co-occurring Disorders
The term co-occurring disorders also referred to as dual diagnosis, means that a sufferer has been diagnosed with a mental disorder as well as an addiction. According to medical experts, any addiction and mental disorder may be present, but dual diagnosis treatment centers often see certain combinations present. The following are five of the most common co-occurring disorders treated at dual diagnosis rehab centers.
Alcoholism and Depression
Alcoholism and depression often go hand in hand. In fact, either may precipitate the other. People who drink chronically can alter their brain chemistry to the extent that a mental disorder ensues as depression ensures. Similarly, people with depression often gravitate to alcohol to temporarily halt their symptoms of depression. Unfortunately, alcohol as a substance is a depressant, which can exacerbate the depression problem.
Cocaine Addiction and Manic Depression
People with cocaine addictions have often presented to dual diagnosis treatment centers with manic depression. Manic depression differs from clinical depression because of its intense mood swing that ranges from very high to very low–even suicidal thoughts. Cocaine, as a stimulant, produces a mighty high. This high can be attractive and, of course, addictive to someone who self-medicates with this substance.
Opiates and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Opiates are powerfully addictive drugs derived from the opium poppy. They are used to create both essential pharmaceuticals as well as illicit narcotics. Individuals suffering from addiction to opiates frequently present to addiction treatment centers with addictions to both the prescription and illegal varieties of these drugs. Often patients with PTSD will turn to painkillers in the opiates family to self-medicate. When these can’t be obtained, many sufferers have turned to heroin as a substitute.
Xanax and Anxiety
Xanax is a highly effective medication that can be used to treat acute anxiety. However, it is incredibly addicting. Patients with chronic anxiety are at high risk for developing an addiction to Xanax if they are prescribed this drug for a lengthy period. Moreover, if the sufferer develops a tolerance to the drug and begins to abuse it by taking more than prescribed, they are at risk for developing an addiction to this drug.
Signs of Co-Occurring Disorders with Addiction
Co-occurring disorders involve the co-existence of a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. Also known as dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorders require professional evaluation and treatment. Common co-occurring disorders include depression disorder and alcoholism, panic disorder and sedative abuse, and methamphetamine-induced psychosis. Treatment for dual diagnosis conditions depends significantly on the substance of abuse and mental illness in question, with pharmacotherapeutic and psychotherapeutic therapies both used in different cases. Correct diagnosis is always the first step, so let’s take a look at five signs pointing towards a co-occurring disorder.
1. You use drugs as a form of self-medication
People with pre-existing mental health disorders often use drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication. For example, someone living with depression disorder may start to abuse prescription opioids or alcohol as a way to relieve stress and access specific emotional states. While drugs can provide a sense of temporary relief from some mental health conditions, long-term drug abuse is only likely to exacerbate existing problems.
2. You experience depression or anxiety as a result of drug use
Dual diagnosis is a broad term used to describe a wide range of problematic interactions. While some people start abusing drugs as a form of self-medication, others may develop mental illness as a result of existing drug addictions. For example, drug addicts often become depressed as a result of their addiction, with others growing anxiety-related conditions as a result of drug addiction or withdrawal. If you or anyone you know is experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of drug use, it’s essential to seek professional help as soon as possible.
3. You rely on drugs to feel normal
People with drug problems often feel like they need to keep using drugs just to feel normal. This is especially the case for dual diagnosis patients, many of who are consuming psychoactive substances as a way to numb the symptoms of mental illness. Extensive psychotherapy is often needed to break the psychological bonds of drug addiction, including family therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
4. You have a family history of mental illness
People with a family history of mental illness are much more likely to develop co-occurring disorders. While some people are able to use drugs without developing mental health problems, others are not so lucky. While it’s always important to be aware of the warning signs, people with a family history of mental illness should be extra vigilant.
5. You take drugs to help manage past trauma
Drug addictions often develop in response to previous traumatic events. For example, people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety-related conditions often turn to drugs or alcohol to help them through tough times. While this form of self-medication may seem useful in the early stages, substance abuse will only ever make existing problems worse. If you or anyone you know is struggling with any kind of co-occurring disorder, it’s important to reach out to a specialized treatment center as soon as you can.
Treatment for Co-occurring Disorders
Rehab treatment is designed to treat the drug and alcohol abuse problem at the same time that a person receives help for the mental issues of which they are the victims. Treatment is based on a complete background and an understanding of the disease that a person suffers from. A large part of rehab treatment involves the elimination of the stigma that mental disease and a substance abuse disorder often stamps a sufferer.
One of the most frequently diagnosed and the most often overlooked co-occurring disorder is depression. A depressed individual can be as cunning at hiding their depression as they are at protecting their use of drugs or alcohol to escape their depression.
Treatment has to be specifically designed to address the mental illness. This necessitates the availability of trained experts that can manage the host of psychological issues that can be masked by drug and alcohol abuse. Experience is the best teacher in seeing that a person has a problem that drug and alcohol abuse only hide.
Rehab centers can help a person that suffers from co-occurring disorders to escape the terrible loneliness that they feel. Imagine if you can be trapped in a world that you sometimes think is real and frequently think is not real. Think about how difficult it is to deal with the real problem through a haze of drugs and alcohol.
Alcohol Rehab at Adjustments Family Services Treatment Center
If you believe that a co-occurring disorder is an issue in your life, we can help. At the Adjustments Family Services Treatment Centers, we have an extensive staff with experience in addiction and mental health. We keep our ratio of patients to staff quite low, so we can focus on the needs of everyone in our care. We also utilize a customized approach, ensuring that all treatment is designed to help people with the specific problems they face. Our treatments can help you deal not only with the addiction but also any mental or emotional conditions that led to substance use in the first place.