What is a co-occurring disorder?
A co-occurring disorder is when someone suffers from mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, also is struggling with an addiction. Interactions between substance abuse and mental disorders are very complex. The best Addiction Treatment Centers are those that specialize in the mental health issue of the patient and the drug of choice.
A specialized team of medical personal and addiction counselors with the expertise and experience in co-occurring disorders are needed to work with this special group of patients. The diagnosis is difficult as the symptoms of the two illnesses overlap, making proper treatment a challenge. The co-occurring disorders should be treated at the same time.
The combination of these two conditions, also known as dual diagnosis, is more common than people are aware of. Having three or more co-occurring disorders is not unusual. Close to 50% of those who suffer from a mental disorder are also abusers of alcohol and drugs. Some of the disorders seen in conjunction with addictions are, but not limited to:
Bipolar Affective Disorder
Anti-social Personality Disorder
Drugs and alcohol are typically used by people with dual diagnosis to make them feel normal, lessen the pain. In most cases, the combination of addiction and mental illness will make the symptoms worse, creating a vicious circle between the use of drugs, seen as self-medication, and the mental illness. There are many consequences of undiagnosed co-occurring disorders such as early mortality, incarceration and suicide. There are drug treatment centers that are specific to co-occurring disorders.
The success rate for treating the mental illness after they have been detoxed from their drug of choice is much higher. The patient is generally more apt to participate in their drug addiction recovery and treatment if they are able to obtain help with their mental illness issue.
When looking for a substance abuse center, one that specializes in the mental illness of the individual is best. The counselor can then make a treatment plan, where each problem has a specific intervention that is appropriate for the patient.
After being detoxed from the drug of choice and the patient is ready for discharge, there are options for those in early recovery such as group homes and sober living houses. There are the self-help groups of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous which are 12 step programs. Other such self-help programs are available that are specific for co-occurring disorders. A strong support system will encourage and help the patient as they continue their path of recovery.