Co-Occurring Disorders - Addiction and Mental Health Treatment Issues

Delmar Hobbs
April 19, 2013 — 1,451 views  
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The reason that the multiple disorders are to be established separately and then diagnosed together as co-occurring disorders is because the best possibility of recovery from both is when they are treated together at the same time.

There is an obvious a relationship between the mental disorder and the substance abuse disorder in co-occurring disorders and a common question whether one could possibly be causing the other. While this may seem like an important question, it is much more important to keep in mind that whether or not one caused the other, they are both there and one can cause the other's symptoms to increase in number and intensity, so if one is treated while leaving the other unchecked treatment and recovery from both will be near impossible.

A large part of recovery from addiction, and maybe even more so with co-occurring disorders, is hope. It is important to remember that even though successful treatment and recovery of multiple disorders often takes more effort, time, and patience than just one disorder on the part of both the individual affected and the treatment provider it can and has been done. Another vital aspect of recovery and maintaining hope is to not be discouraged if a relapse occurs. Although a relapse may not be a desired part of recovery, it can happen, and most people can bounce back from them quickly, with some effort, and move on with their recovery.

Having a healthy support network is also essential to people recovering from not just addiction but co-occurring disorders. A support network can be anything from sober group of friends or family, or a self-help group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Finding a support network for someone with a co-occurring disorder can be more challenging depending on the mental disorder of the individual, but there are many resources that can and should be utilized to search for one. The Links page of this site has some of the available resources listed.

When working with individuals that may possibly have co-occurring disorders, or considering the possibility of that you, yourself, may have co-occurring disorders, it is important to make sure that an accurate and thorough assessment is performed. Some of the aspects of an individual's life that should be taken into consideration are: family history, sensitivity to alcohol or drugs (meaning the relationship between alcohol or drug use and mental health), symptoms that appear when sober, and treatment history.

Please note: not all substance abuse or mental health facilities are capable of treating co-occurring disorders and it is essential to locate one that does if successful treatment and recovery is to be obtained. For a list of substance abuse facilities that address co-occurring disorders please visit SAMHSA's Treatment Facility Locator or call their 24-hour helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357).

A co-occurring disorder, also referred to as dual diagnosis, is when a person has a mental disorder, such as anxiety or depression along with a substance or alcohol abuse disorder. As if receiving or providing treatment for an addiction wasn't enough to worry about, the very high prevalence of mental disorders among people with substance abuse problems makes treatment even more difficult.

In fact, according to the American Medical Association about 29 percent of people diagnosed with mental illnesses are also affected by either an alcohol or drug addiction as well and about 37 percent of people addicted to alcohol and 53 percent of people addicted to drugs have at least one major mental illness.

Delmar Hobbs