It’s no secret that addiction takes a serious toll on mental health. The psychological effects of substance abuse can damage a person’s relationships, harm their work ethic and put them in financial turmoil. In some cases, the psychological distress of addiction may even develop into a mental health condition. This is known as a co-occurring disorder, as it exists directly alongside substance abuse.
Co-occurring disorders can develop as a result of addiction. However, in other cases, a person may turn to drugs or alcohol in an effort to manage the symptoms of an existing mental illness. With time, this dangerous habit can put the user on the path to addiction. We’ll explore the various types of co-occurring disorders as well as their implications to help you better understand the nature of these disorders. Whether you’re seeking support for yourself or a loved one, help is always available.
What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder?
A co-occurring disorder refers to the coexistence of a mental health condition and a substance use disorder. The diagnosis of a co-occurring disorder is known as a dual diagnosis. Individuals who suffer from mental illness are far more likely to develop a substance use disorder than those who do not experience mental health issues. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it’s estimated that approximately 9.2 million US adults struggle with a co-occurring disorder.
Many individuals with addiction are not aware that they have an underlying mental health condition until they enter treatment. Most addiction treatment centers, including Mayflower Recovery, have certified mental health specialists on staff to administer the appropriate treatment to patients. Our experts will take the time to understand your unique struggles and provide the right support according to your needs. This will allow you to make meaningful progress on the road to recovery.
Types of Co-Occurring Disorders
While any mental illness can accompany addiction, certain disorders are more common than others. Below are some well-known mental health conditions that are often diagnosed along with substance use disorder.
Anxiety is one of the most common co-occurring disorders seen in patients with addiction. There are various disorders that fall under the umbrella of anxiety, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Many individuals who struggle with anxiety seek refuge in substances in an effort to quell their symptoms. While this behavior may provide temporary relief, it can cause the individual to become dependent on their substance of choice. This dependency may grow into a full-blown addiction over time.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by severe mood swings. A patient’s mood often fluctuates between emotional highs, known as manic episodes, and severe lows, known as depressive episodes. Manic symptoms typically include excessive talking, insomnia, racing thoughts and delusions. Symptoms of depression include prolonged sadness, extreme fatigue and poor nutrition. Some patients use substances to better manage their depression, while others engage in reckless behavior such as binge drinking during a manic episode.
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While less common than other co-occurring disorders, schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder that can often accompany substance abuse. Individuals with schizophrenia typically experience delusions, hallucinations, abnormal physical behavior and disorganized thinking and speech. Those who are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia may have a higher chance of developing this mental illness as a result of prolonged substance abuse. It’s also worth noting that abusing drugs or alcohol can significantly exacerbate the symptoms of schizophrenia in the long run.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder (MDD) can make everyday life challenging in numerous ways. Some of the most common symptoms of MDD include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Sleep disturbances (i.e. insomnia or oversleeping)
- Changes in appetite and eating habits
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Agitation or restlessness
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
To mitigate these symptoms, some people with depression turn to drugs or alcohol. Alternatively, chronic substance abuse can cause these symptoms to appear if they didn’t exist before.
Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders
If you or someone close to you is battling addiction and an underlying mental illness, it’s crucial to ensure that you or your loved one receives the proper care and treatment. To help support a full recovery, mental health issues must be treated concurrently with addiction. That’s why the dedicated addiction specialists at Mayflower Recovery offer integrated care to promote effective, lasting recovery. By incorporating highly effective mental health treatment into each recovery plan, our experts successfully adopt a holistic treatment approach.
There are various treatment methods available to patients with co-occurring disorders. Many recovery plans include a combination of individual counseling and group therapy. By participating in one-on-one therapy sessions, patients have the opportunity to work through their challenges with the undivided attention and care of a skilled professional. These sessions are most effective when supplemented with group counseling. Group therapy provides a welcome and supportive community of individuals who are undergoing similar struggles. In this environment, patients will receive support and encouragement from like-minded individuals.
If needed, a mental health professional may prescribe medication to a patient diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder. This can help the patient better manage their symptoms as they undergo treatment. Any medication is administered on an as-need basis according to the unique needs of each patient.
The Importance of Early Detection
When treating co-occurring disorders, it’s never too late to seek professional help. However, the chances of achieving a full recovery are notably higher if the patient is diagnosed early on. If you suspect you or someone close to you may be battling a co-occurring disorder, don’t wait to seek out treatment. With early detection, you can learn how to manage the symptoms of your condition in a safe and effective way. Learning these coping mechanisms at an early stage can help you better navigate recovery in the long run.
If you found this information useful, share this article with anyone you feel would benefit from it. Don’t hesitate to consult professional resources to better manage your co-occurring disorder. At Mayflower Recovery, we have a wide range of addiction recovery tools and experts at our disposal to help bolster your unique journey toward sobriety. No matter where you are on the path to recovery, it’s always our goal to help each and every patient overcome substance abuse and live a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.