Those who have substance use disorders sometimes struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders. The combination of these disorders can make the recovery process more difficult without the right treatment approach. Knowing more about these co-occurring disorders can help ensure that you or a loved one are able to receive proper care for a healthy recovery from addiction.

What Are Co Occurring Disorders?

Co-occurring disorders are substance use disorders and mental health disorders that occur in the same individual. If you or a loved one are diagnosed with a mental health disorder and have a substance use disorder, these are considered co-occurring disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), roughly half of people who have a substance use disorder also have a mental health disorder.

Substance use disorders involve the abuse (and addiction) of alcohol or drugs, such as opioids. These disorders can involve controlled use of legal and illegal drugs, including prescription pain medications. Learn more about addiction and the definition here. Looking at mental health disorders, several can occur with substance use disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and personality disorders.

While a wide range of mental health disorders can co-occur with substance use disorders, there are patterns of some that occur more often than others. Research has found higher rates of anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, in those who have substance use disorders. Other mental health disorders that occur at increased rates with substance use disorders include bipolar disorder, depression, borderline personality disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Substance Use Disorders and Serious Mental Illness (SMI)

Serious mental illness (SMI) refers to mental health disorders that cause severe impairment in day-to-day functioning, such as bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia. According to NIMH, roughly one in four people with a serious mental illness have a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Co-Occurring Disorders Involving Opioid Use

Opioid use has been a growing problem in the U.S. in recent years. Understanding how co-occurring disorders are linked to opioid use is important for ensuring proper treatment. Research shows that individuals who have a mental health disorder or substance use disorder have a higher risk of abusing prescription opioids, such as taking them for non-medical purposes. NIMH states that 43 percent of individuals in treatment for prescription painkiller abuse show symptoms of or have been diagnosed with mental health disorders. Among these individuals, anxiety and depression were common.

What Causes Co-Occurring Disorders?

Having co-occurring disorders does not mean that one disorder caused the other to occur. Researchers have found a few possible explanations for why these disorders co-occur, such as the presence of common risk factors. These risk factors, such as trauma or a family history of substance use disorders and mental health disorders, might lead to co-occurring disorders in some individuals.

Other possible explanations include mental health disorders contributing to substance use disorders and vice versa. For example, some individuals with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or another mental health disorder might turn to alcohol or drugs to ease symptoms. This form of self-medicating can lead to addiction as individuals continue using drugs or alcohol. For some, these substances can make their symptoms worse while also boosting the rewarding effects drugs or alcohol have on the brain. For those who already have a substance use disorder, changes to the brain that occur can increase their risk of developing mental health disorders.

What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Taking co-occurring disorders into consideration for addiction treatment is highly important. Those who have these disorders should be able to receive treatment for substance use disorders and mental health disorders. This is done through the use of dual diagnosis treatment. This type of treatment helps ensure that individuals are treated for co-occurring disorders in order to improve their chance of having a successful and healthy recovery. Dual diagnosis treatment centers in Florida provide compassionate and effective care for those who have co-occurring disorders.

See How Dual Diagnosis Treatment Can Help

Treatment programs for co-occurring disorders often include detoxification to help individuals get through withdrawal from alcohol or drugs safely. Inpatient rehabilitation might be recommended depending on the severity of co-occurring disorders, especially for those with serious mental illness. Psychotherapy is typically part of the treatment process in order to help individuals manage mental health symptoms while also recovering from addiction.

When you or a loved one need treatment for co-occurring disorders, finding the right treatment is important. Our dual diagnosis treatment centers offers proper care and treatment to help you or your loved safely recover. This type of treatment can also lead to better ways of managing or reducing metal health symptoms to help you achieve long-term addiction recovery. Contact us today or give us a call at (866) 971-5531.

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