- Table of Contents
- Mental Health Disorders
- How & Why They Occur
- Treatment & Recovery
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An individual with a co-occurring disorder means they have been diagnosed with a drug abuse disorder and another psychological health disorder. Co-occurring disorders, sometimes called dual disorders, are best dealt with dual-diagnosis treatment models attending to both disorders at the same time.
The human brain is a delicate and complex muscle. It’s not unusual that alcohol and other drugs can cause and/or mask symptoms of mental disorders. Drugs heavily influence how the brain works by manipulating the chemicals within it (dopamine and serotonin). This manipulation causes users to feel buzzed or high.
In response to those changes, the brain adapts to the presence of alcohol and other substances, creating dependence and raising the chances that an individual will develop a substance use disorder. Substance use disorders are categorized as a mental health disorder – but more commonly known as addiction.
It’s possible to have more than one psychological health disorder. Addictions usually co-occur together with other mental disorders. Over half of individuals with substance use disorders also have a mental illness. Often the mental illness comes first. In other people, mental illness occurs due to the abuse. In both situations, each disorder intensifies the signs and symptoms of one another.
Many people with substance use disorders likewise have varying psychiatric disorders which might or might not be major. The majority of co-occurring disorders have underlying depression or underlying anxiety.
Other usual co-occurring disorders include personality disorders, behavior disorders and psychotic disorders. With comprehensive therapy, people can recover from addiction and most co-occurring mental health disorders. Although, falling short to resolve co-occurring disorders within addiction therapy will almost inevitably lead to relapse.
What Are Mental Health Disorders?
The expressions “mental health issue,” “mental illness,” and “mental health disorder” are frequently used synonymously. In its diagnostics handbook, the American Psychiatric Association uses the term mental disorder to specify mental illnesses. However, the organization likewise recommends using the term mental health challenge.
The American Psychiatric Association defines a mental disorder as: “a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, developmental or biological processes underlying mental functioning.”
Some mental illnesses are more usual than others. Problems such as anxiety and depressive disorders, as an example, take place more frequently than schizophrenia and psychosis. Each type of mental disorder can range in severity from mild to serious.
Mental disorders are unique from developmental disabilities. Developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities, hinder social interaction, self-sufficiency, language and mobility. Substance use disorders and other mental health disorders can co-occur alongside developmental disorders. The term co-occurring disorder most generally refers to substance use disorders and psychological disorders.
Dual Diagnosis & Comorbidity
Dual diagnosis is the term used to describe the treatment for co-occurring disorders. Both of these terms are occasionally confused with comorbid disorders. Comorbidity is a wide term used to signify the existence of numerous physical or mental diseases or disorders. Co-occurring disorders and dual diagnosis are specific to substance use disorders and other mental health problems.
Mental Illness that Co-Occur with Substance Use Disorders
Any type of psychological health disorder can co-occur together with substance use disorders. The most usual kinds of co-occurring disorders consist of mood, anxiety, psychosis, eating, personality and behavioral disorders. Each group consists of many sorts of mental disorders that can vary in severity.
- MOOD DISORDERS
- ANXIETY DISORDERS
- PSYCHOTIC DISORDERS
- EATING DISORDERS
- PERSONALITY DISORDERS
- BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS
Mood disorders are a broad category of mental disorders that consists of all types of depression and bipolar disorders. They are largely connected with persistent feelings of despair that last longer and are more extreme than typical feelings of sadness.
Examples of mood disorders consist of:
- Bipolar disorder
- Major Depressive disorder
Anxiety and fear are normal feelings, but prolonged sensations of anxiety that get worse in time might be a measure of an anxiety disorder. Some anxiety disorders interrupt normal life, making work and various other activities difficult.
Instances of anxiety disorder consist of:
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
Psychotic disorders usually trigger two severe signs and symptoms: delusions and hallucinations. People with psychosis are disconnected from reality and may become a threat to themselves or others.
Sorts of psychotic disorders consist of:
- Postpartum psychosis
- Schizoaffective disorder
Like substance use disorders, eating disorders are misunderstood. People with eating disorders do not choose to eat unhealthy diets. They have a significant mental illness that causes them to perform self-damaging eating behaviors.
Usual kinds of eating disorders consist of:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Binge eating disorder
- Bulimia nervosa
Personality disorders are mental illnesses related to unhealthy thoughts and activities. These disorders are set off by daily stresses and can interrupt leisure activities, work and relationships.
Kinds of personality disorders include:
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Schizotypal personality disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Dependent personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Schizoid personality disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Avoidant personality disorder
Behavioral disorders most generally occur in adolescents. Many healthy individuals show behavior issues, such as defiance, inattention and hyperactivity. Behavioral disorders are identified by persistent behavior issues that last at least 6 months.
Typical behavioral disorders include:
- Conduct disorder
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Oppositional defiant disorder
Signs of Co-Occurring Disorders
The physical and emotional signs and symptoms of co-occurring disorders vary depending on your life circumstances, the kind of substances you use and the kind of mental illness you carry.
Social and lifestyle symptoms of co-occurring disorders consist of:
- Treatment disagreement
- Suicidal ideation
- Unexplained mood changes
- hostile behavior
- Lawful troubles
- Employment and housing instability
- Trouble budgeting funds
- Prostitution or sexual deviance
- Cleanliness and health problems
- Trouble concentrating
The symptoms of mental health disorders resemble the side effects of addiction. Therefore, it can be difficult determining whether a mental disorder triggers substance abuse or the other way around. Reliable addiction treatment centers evaluate individuals for mental disorders and create plans for dealing with co-occurring disorders separately but at the same time.
Why Drug Use and Other Mental Disorders Co-Occur
Psychological health disorders raise an individual’s risk of using drugs or drinking alcohol. Substance abuse also increases the risk of developing a mental illness. Nonetheless, it’s hard to verify what created the cause of the other. Scientists are still examining the human brain to figure out how mental illnesses develop, but they have several theories.
“If somebody drinks or uses substances or alcohol heavily, they’re more probable to have mood problems as a result of the drug use.” – Coalition Recovery’s Medical Director – Dr. Debra Barnett
We can conclude that there are likely direct associations between substance use and mental illness. If somebody drinks or uses drugs heavily, they’re more probable to have mood troubles as a result of substance use. In most cases, they’re more likely to handle those problems by using other drugs. It becomes a damaging cyclical process.
Along with self-medication, there are several factors that make mental health individuals more susceptible to substance abuse. Danger factors for co-occurring disorders consist of:
Stress, trauma and other events can trigger psychological health concerns that make drug use more enticing.
INVOLVEMENT OF SIMILAR BRAIN REGIONS
Brain systems in charge of things like stress or reward may be impacted by both drug use and mental illness.
Genetics may make a person more at risk for addiction and other mental illnesses.
Exposure to alcohol or other drugs during childhood years and adolescence impacts the development of the human brain. This makes these individuals more susceptible to addiction and various other mental disorders.
Substances can also cause earlier onset of mental illness. People with hereditary threat factors for schizophrenia commonly develop signs of mental disease earlier in life if they smoke weed on a regular basis. However, in some scenarios, abstaining from alcohol or substance abuse can minimize mental health issues. Nonetheless, some drugs can cause long-lasting or permanent damages, and therapy is essential to help people deal with the effects of these mental disorders.
Stigma and Other Issues Involving Co-Occurring Disorders
Stigma is the greatest barrier for individuals with mental illness. Many people wrongly believe that individuals with mental disorders are dangerous or that individuals with drug use disorders have a moral failing. Actually, most individuals with mental illness present minimal risk to others. And regardless of moral beliefs, addiction is a disease that harms an individual’s health, social function and ability to control drug usage.
This misunderstanding causes feelings of fear and embarrassment amongst people with co-occurring disorders. Many people separate themselves to avoid shame. They may also reject that they need mental health therapy. Stigma in our culture additionally prevents individuals in need from receiving support. Social denial can stop people with addiction from maintaining their housing, finding work, and providing for themselves.
The Criminal Justice System
The vast bulk of inmates in the federal prison system have been found guilty of drug-related offenses. The criminal justice system in the United States is among the greatest sources of addiction treatment referrals in the nation. According to a 2017 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a 2011– 2012 national survey found that more than a 3rd of detainees and almost fifty percent of jail inmates in the United States had a background of mental illness. A separate report (from 2007 to 2009) discovered 59 percent of state prisoners and 63 percent of sentenced jail inmates fulfilled the standards for substance abuse or misuse. Some criminal justice programs, such as drug courts, are trying to end the cycle of recidivism by supplying options to imprisonment.
Homeless people frequently have co-occurring disorders and minimal or no access to healthcare. They may even be unaware of their mental illness and might have a background of legal issues that makes it difficult to work. More than 200,000 people who had a drug use disorder or a serious mental disorder experienced homelessness in 2016, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Around 50 percent of veterans who need psychological health treatment seek it, and slightly more than half of those that do receive treatment obtain sufficient care, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). An approximated 70 percent of homeless veterans also have a substance use disorder. Some veterans elect not to look for treatment because they do not want to be discriminated against by peers. Adding to this problem, many Veterans Affairs clinics have been plagued with long wait times.
Recognizing and Recovering from Co-Occurring Disorders
Since the 1980s, the medical community has identified that co-occurring disorders require specialized treatment. Throughout the years, the professionals in the clinical community have used numerous different terms to define people with co-occurring disorders.
The numerous terms used to describe a person with a co-occurring disorder, consist of:
- Dually diagnosed patients
- Mentally ill chemical abuser
- Dually disordered
- Mentally ill substance abuser
- Mentally ill substance using
- Chemically abusing mentally ill
- Substance abusing mentally ill
- Comorbid disorders
- People with co-occurring psychiatric and substance disorders
In recent years, experts have attempted to systematize the term co-occurring disorders to stay clear of confusion between people with developmental disorders and those with mental health disorders. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration generally uses the term co-occurring disorders to describe drug use disorders and mental disorders.
Dual-Diagnosis addiction treatment consists of treating the underlying causes of addiction alongside substance use disorders. Detoxification alone isn’t adequate. To recuperate from addiction, every facet of mental disorder should be addressed.
We know that a tremendous amount of individuals have considerable trauma problems in their past, and we have to resolve them all at the same time.
If you don’t resolve these various other problems, when people get to a place where they’re stressed out, it’s most likely to lead them right back to the coping skill that they used for several years, which was substances. So we truly need to attend to all these issues simultaneously.
Comprehensive, integrated therapy strategies are made to fit each person’s unique health needs. The frequency and strength of treatment are based on the severity of each psychological health condition.
The most efficient therapies for addiction last a minimum of thirty days, however, long-term healing must include aftercare. Most people in recovery from addiction participate in everyday or regular support group meetings. Likewise, many people receive outpatient counseling regularly.
Recovery from mental illness is similar. People should remain going to therapy for co-occurring mental illness after they leave rehab. In addition to therapy, if medical professionals advise medications, such as antipsychotics or antidepressants, patients should continue to take them for as long as their doctor suggests.
Individuals with severe mental illness might require continued therapy treatments. However, most individuals with co-occurring disorders have the ability to attain happiness and fulfillment after achieving sobriety from alcohol or various other substances.
Medical Disclaimer: Coalition Recovery aims to enhance the lifestyle for individuals having problems with substance use or psychological health disorder with fact-based content relating to the nature of behavioral health problems, therapy options, and their associated end results. We release products that are researched, mentioned, modified and examined by qualified medical professionals. The details we provide are not meant to be a replacement for professional clinical recommendations, diagnosis or therapy. It should to not be used instead of your doctor’s recommendations.
Content Creator for Coalition Recovery