When attempting to cope with struggle, pain, or mental health disorders, people often turn to substances to relieve themselves. However, in trying to escape, many people develop co-occurring disorders. Rather than solving their problems or concerns, they add to the fire and manifest more difficulties in their lives.
What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?
Co-occurring disorders are defined as the condition of struggling with more than one co-existing disorder. Often, many people develop both mental health disorders and substance use disorders (SUDs). In America, about 9.2 million adults have experienced co-occurring disorders, eventually making up 45% of Americans.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Both SUDs and other mental disorders can run in families.” Environmental factors can also play a role in the development of co-occurring disorders. Outside factors such as stress or trauma can cause genetic changes. This change in genes can be passed down through families.
When dealing with struggles or a mental health disorder, individuals will often start using drugs or alcohol in order to cope. If this behavior persists, they may develop SUD and often find it difficult to quit.
Anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder are typically present in co-occurring disorders. However, these are not the only defining factors. There is no exact combination of disorders that defines what a co-occurring disorder is. For example, depression and alcohol abuse, pain and opioid dependence, or polysubstance abuse may be combinations.
Other mental health disorders that may be present include schizophrenia, conduct disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Substances that may be present in co-occurring disorders include alcohol, opioids, stimulants, marijuana, hallucinogens, and prescription drugs.
Signs of Co-Occurring Disorders
Co-occurring disorders have a multitude of signs due to the effects of both mental health disorders and drug or alcohol abuse. Some of these signs include:
- Feeling hopeless
- Having thoughts of suicide
- Extreme mood changes
- Short attention span
- Erratic behavior
- Panic attacks
- Being easily irritable
- Using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism
- A family history of the condition
- Experiencing a cycle of self-medication
- Difficulty quitting alcohol or drugs
Effects of Co-Occurring Disorders
If an individual is struggling with co-occurring disorders, they may experience the following effects:
- A decline in work performance and attendance
- Loss of employment, which can result in ongoing unemployment
- Financial issues
- Interrogation by the police after an overdose
- Social withdrawal, which can lead to almost-entire isolation and antisocial behavior
- Self-harming or suicidal tendencies
- Family problems
- Infections and physical health problems
Other serious public health effects may include HIV, AIDS, or viral hepatitis. This can occur from unsafe intercourse or risky injections, which are possible when a person struggles with co-occurring disorders. While these co-existing disorders impact an individual’s mental health severely, the effects can also be detrimental to their physical health.
It is essential to be aware of the effects of co-occurring disorders in order to recognize how it impacts an individual’s life. By recognizing these signs, individuals can seek treatment to create a more fulfilling and less dependent lifestyle.
Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders
Many professionals will implement integrated care into treatment plans for those with co-occurring disorders. This care will simultaneously target the present mental health concerns and the present SUD. This is a whole-person approach to treatment. Professionals will work with the client physically, emotionally, and mentally to overcome the multiple disorders.
Receiving treatment for co-occurring disorders can result in the following:
- Reduced or discontinued substance use
- Improvement in psychiatric symptoms and functioning
- Increased chance for successful treatment and recovery for both/all disorders
- Improved quality of life
- Decreased hospitalization
- Reduced medication interactions
- Increased housing stability
- Fewer arrests
Overall, treating co-occurring disorders allows individuals to develop a better, healthier, and more satisfying life.
How Roots Recovery Treats Co-Occurring Disorders
At Roots Recovery, professionals implement both behavioral modification therapies and substance disorder-specific treatments such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and mindfulness-based practices. By doing this, we work to implement integrated care.
One of the more popular therapies used in co-occurring disorder treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT works to explore a client’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in hopes of restructuring their beliefs and avoiding self-destructive behaviors.
MAT at Roots Recovery uses anti-craving medications to prevent an individual from using substances. After detoxing, it is common for people to crave a substance and overdose, which can lead to serious health problems or death. With anti-craving medication, however, the need a person feels for a substance fades away until there is no reliance left.
Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention
Mindfulness practices at Roots Recovery include our mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) program. This works to bring mindful awareness to those struggling with addiction. Using MBRP, clients discover their triggers and habits, working to deconstruct and eliminate these harms from their life. MBRP guides clients to pause and observe their experience in the present before jumping into decision-making. Often these decisions, when instinctual, can and will harm the individual.
Roots Recovery focuses on a whole-person approach to treatment. In doing so, both disorders present are treated simultaneously for efficient and effective healing.
Here at Roots Recovery, we take a whole-person approach to treating those dealing with co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders are a result of two disorders that co-exist. This is often seen between mental health disorders and substance use disorders (SUDs). Our staff works with clients to combat these simultaneously, guiding them to a healthier and happier lifestyle. At Roots Recovery, we use treatment approaches such as talk therapies, relapse prevention programs, and mindfulness practices to help people find healing from co-occurring disorders. For more information on co-occurring disorders and how we can help you or a loved one find treatment, reach out to Roots Recovery. Call us today at (562) 473-0827.