How to Successfully Treat Co-occurring Disorders

At one point in time, Treatment for mental health disorders was considered to be separate from the treatment of drug or alcohol addiction and care was delivered at different facilities with radically different therapeutic approaches. This caused many people who suffered from disorders such as depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or other mental health conditions to never actually receive treatment for substance abuse as well. On the flip side, many people who were treated for substance abuse never received adequate care for any underlying mental health issues. These days, many addiction specialists and mental health specialists view co-occurring disorder dual diagnosis treatment as a unique field of its own.

When the strategies from two different fields of addiction treatment and psychiatry were combined, they can lower the relapse rate among those who are treated for both. When you go to a facility that emphasizes treatment for co-occurring disorders, the staff members will have specialized training in dual diagnosis treatment so that they will be able to understand that clients with co-occurring disorders will face certain challenges.

What Are Co-occurring Disorders?

Co-occurring disorders are extremely common among people that struggle with substance abuse and in many cases undiagnosed or untreated mental health disorders will lead people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol as a way to “improve” the mental health symptoms they experience. However, it is proven that alcohol and other drugs worsen the symptoms of mental illnesses. Without the proper support and medication for both mental illness and substance abuse, the symptoms can easily become too much to handle.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Co-occurring Disorders

If you are unsure yourself whether or not you struggle with mental illness as well as substance abuse and are unsure if dual diagnosis treatment is the best option for you, there are many different ways to find out this information. The best way is to visit with an addiction specialist and a psychiatrist. They will conduct an in-depth evaluation and if they find that a diagnosable mental illness was prevalent before your addiction, dual diagnosis treatment is likely your best option. If a patient’s mental illness symptoms are not also treated, it is very likely to see a person to be lead right back into drug and alcohol use. There is a very strong link between mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders. There are three possible reasons to explain why co-occurring disorders are so prevalent.

  • Self-medicating: Mental illness can lead to someone using drugs and/or alcohol as a way of coping with the symptoms of mental illness. The concept of self-medicating can be misleading because although the substances can mask the symptoms, they can at the same time exacerbate the symptoms.
  • Overlapping Risk Factors: Common risk factors for mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders oftentimes overlap.
  • Drug-Induced Brain Changes: Substance abuse can cause changes in areas of the brain that is disrupted by mental health disorders. This can increase a person’s likelihood of developing symptoms of mental health disorders. The brain areas affected by substance use are correlated with the same areas also associated with impulse control, mood, and anxiety disorders, and even schizophrenia.

How to Achieve Recover from Co-occurring Disorders

The best way to achieve long-term success is to treat both illnesses simultaneously but separately. It is important to treat an individual with co-occurring disorders by integrating the treatment of all existing mental health conditions. We want to make sure you get the best care for their mental health and substance abuse issues and in the best surroundings possible. We will ensure you have all of the tools you need to live a long and happy life. Now is the time to make a life-altering change and we are here to guide you through it.

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