Co-Occurring Disorder Explained
The term co-occurring disorder, also known as dual disorder is a condition where an individual who has a substance addiction (drugs and/or alcohol) as well as a mental illness (OCD, anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc.). Whilst the term in widely used to refer to the combination of substance use and mental disorders, the term also refers to other combination of disorders such as mental disorders and intellectual disability.
Millions of people within the U.S. suffer from a form of mental health. Sadly, individuals with mental health conditions who are not receiving adequate help are at a much higher risk of developing a pattern of substance abuse. They turn to drugs and/or alcohol to alleviate the symptoms of their mental health issues.
If an individual is to have both mental health symptoms and substance abuse symptoms it can be increasingly hard to treat all the problems that develop of the time period of the substance abuse.. The persons physical health can deteriorate dramatically, symptomatic relapse increases, financial problems appear, self-isolation, homelessness, hospitalization, sexual and physical victimization are all additional problems which ultimately leads to other severe issues that makes the treatments increasingly hard to treat.
“37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness.”
Source: Help Guide Org, 2019
Signs of Co-Occurring disorder
There are many symptoms that occur with a variety of co-occurring disorders. However, looking into specifics with substance abuse and mental disabilities it would be common to the see the following symptoms;
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
- Leg tremors caused from ataxia, suffering from a loss of muscle coordination
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Loss of energy
- Anger, physical pain, and reckless behavior (especially in men)
- Racing heart or shortness of breath
- Balancing issues or needing a hand when standing
- Feelings of euphoria or extreme irritability
- Rapid speech and racing thoughts
If you are wondering whether yourself or a loved one has co-occurring disorder, please do seek reach out and seek help. We have dedicated programs to help individuals no matter how severe your symptoms.
What comes first addiction or mental illness
No one will ever experience the same situation when it comes to dealing with addiction and mental illness. Many people unfortunately live within a negative environment from a young age, thus developing mental health issues before they can even comprehend what it is they are feeling. This type of situation often leads to the individual experimenting with drugs and alcohol within their early teenage years. By the time they are in their early 20’s they have both a serious substance addiction and mental illness.
Others experience alcohol and drug abuse later on in life as an attempt to self-medicate to deal with daily struggles. It is known that these types of individuals would have been experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety, PTSD, depression etc but not have the courage to seek help. Self-medication from alcohol or/and drugs should never be an option that is taken. This will inevitably grow into a severe case of co-occurring disorder and without professional medical intervention the symptoms will only get worse until the individual is hospitalized unwillingly.
Treatment for Co-Occurring disorder
To provide the best personalized treatment for someone suffering with co-occurring disorder both issues will need to be treated simultaneously. No matter whether your substance abuse or mental health problem came first, successful long-term recovery is based on receiving treatment for both disorders. This needs to be done preferably by the same treatment provider or therapy team for the best results.
Treatment regarding your substance abuse may include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy this can be of assistance to enhance coping skills and diminish maladaptive behaviors. Other forms of treatment include detoxification, managing withdrawal symptoms and support group including both peers and family to help continue your sobriety.
Relapse prevention classes have been known to help individuals become aware of what ticks encourage them to start abusing again and how to develop alternative responses. The treatments spoken about are subjective to the individual, you will have to undergo evaluation to determine how severe your symptoms are. There unfortunately no set time limit on the road to recovery. However, keeping yourself surround with family and peers who support you and being open with the medical team helping you will increase your chances of the process becoming easier.
If any of the symptoms spoken about are cause for concern with either you or a loved one, please do not wait any longer to seek help, we suggest contacting an accredited alcohol, drugs and mental health rehab near you for expert medical advice and treatment options. The sooner you ask for help the sooner you can get your life and important relationships to you back on track.
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