Co-Occurring Disorders

Many individuals who suffer from substance abuse also have at least one co-occurring mental health disorder. Drug and alcohol use can be an attempt to cope with mental health disorders, or psychiatric issues could result from prolonged substance abuse. In either situation, the diagnosis is known as a comorbid disorder, co-occurring disorder or a dual diagnosis. Call 844-299-7326 to learn more.

Prevalence of Co-Occurring Disorders With Addiction

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, almost a third of people with a primary mental health disorder like depression or anxiety and a half of those with severe mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder have a drug or alcohol addiction. Similarly, approximately six out of 10 people with a substance use disorder suffer from at least one other mental disorder.

Developing Mental Health Issues From Substance Abuse

Alcohol and drug abuse can produce symptoms similar to those of mental health disorders. In many circumstances, it is difficult to determine which came first, addiction or mental illness. This is because some symptoms of addiction mimic those of mental health disorders and vice versa. For instance, alcohol is a depressant that can alter brain chemistry, leading to symptoms of depression. Psychosis, similar to that seen in individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, can also be a side effect of abuse of cocaine, marijuana, alcohol or hallucinogens. Sometimes addiction exacerbates an already existing mental health disorder. Speak Confidentially with a Promises New Jersey Recovery Advisor at 844-299-7326

Using Substances to Cope With Mental Health Issues

People suffering from mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, ADHD and bipolar disorder who are not properly treated may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. Those with post-traumatic stress disorder or behavioral addictions such as gambling or sex addictions are also at high risk for substance use disorders. For example, an individual who is anxious may temporarily feel relief from symptoms when they abuse drugs with numbing qualities like opioids. Depressed individuals may turn to uppers like methamphetamines to help them feel energized.

Besides these coping mechanisms providing only temporary and dangerous relief from symptoms, they also eventually create the opposite of the desired effect. Drug and alcohol abuse can affect neurotransmitters and change the brain’s chemistry, actually worsening the symptoms of mental health disorders.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

Treatment for co-occurring disorders must address both mental health issues and the behavioral, emotional and social issues of addiction. Comprehensive care for dual diagnosis or co-occurring issues must go beyond just medication management and drug or alcohol detox to enhance the opportunity for long-term recovery.

Successful treatment combines evidence-based medication as clinically appropriate with intensive behavioral therapy. This approach helps address the symptoms as well as the underlying issues that propel addiction, unhealthy coping mechanisms and destructive thought patterns. Call 844-299-7326 to learn more.


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