An Introduction To Co-Occurring Disorders

An Introduction To Co-Occurring Disorders

15th February 2021 | | Blog

Co-occurring disorders are also known as dual disorders, and it is diagnosed when a patient has a substance use disorder and a mental health condition. Substance use disorder is diagnosed when a patient is discovered to be abusing or dependent on alcohol or any type of drug. This impacts their ability to function in daily life alongside having negative consequences for their health and social relationships. In addition, physiological dependence that encompasses a heightened tolerance to the abused substance can ensue in withdrawal symptoms if the patient stops abusing or reduces their dosage abruptly. Mental health conditions include both mood- and anxiety-related disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, panic disorder, and schizophrenia. 

Diagnosing Co-Occurring Disorders

It can be difficult to diagnose a co-occurring disorder as the symptoms of substance abuse can mask those of the mental health condition and vice versa. On top of that, many patients mistakenly believe that they have two separate problems that are independent of each other. 

Below are some ways to tell if a person has a co-occurring disorder:

  • Very often, people with mental health disorders abuse substances to escape from psychological pain. As a result, they find that they cannot stop using because the substance is tied to their capacity to feel better. When they do stop, they have no outlet for their psychological pain, worsening the symptoms of the mental health condition. This not only makes it difficult for them to quit but can interfere with any medications they may be taking and prevent them from developing healthy coping mechanisms.
  • If only the substance abuse aspect of the problem is treated, a patient with a co-occurring disorder may find little to no improvement after receiving treatment. With the substance removed, the symptoms of their mental health condition worsen as their only coping mechanism is gone. As such, it is impossible to treat a substance use disorder without also treating the underlying mental health condition which is causing the patient to use.

Treatment Options for Co-Occurring Disorders

In the past, the two aspects of co-occurring disorders were treated as two separate conditions, with separate treatment plans for each. However, that approach did not prove effective. Mental health does not automatically improve with the treatment of substance use disorder, and vice versa. 

Today, many rehabilitation centers offer integrated treatment programs to target the root of the problem and address the body, mind, and spirit. For instance, holistic therapy incorporates a series of therapies to help individuals build connections between the different aspects of themselves.

Work with Spark To Recovery for Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment 

At Spark To Recovery, we are fully committed to the recovery of every patient. Our goal is not just to break you off chemical dependency, but to ensure that you are able to lead a healthy, fulfilling life even after treatment. To this end, continuum of care is available after treatment ends, being available for as long as it is needed. Call Spark To Recovery at 818-849-5467 today if you want to schedule an appointment with us.