What is a Co-Occurring Disorder? | Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers
what is a co-occurring disorder

causes of co-occurring disordersMental illness and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand for many individuals. Sadly, facing coexisting disorders like addiction and mental illness can make both disorders considerably worse. Overcoming each is possible and it’s important to understand how co-occurring disorders work and how they can be effectively treated. What is a co-occurring disorder, though? We’re answering that question below and shedding light on dual diagnosis programs that integrate mental health and addiction modalities to help more people find recovery.

If you believe you’re facing co-occurring disorders or if you have someone you love that is in need of assistance, contact our dual diagnosis recovery center at AspenRidge. Call us directly 24/7 at 855-281-5588.  

What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

According to Psychology Today, the term co-occurring disorder refers to the condition in which an individual has a co-existing mental illness and substance use disorder.

When a substance use disorder and a psychiatric disorder co-occur, they may differ in severity, and the severity of each can change over time. Compared to individuals who have a single disorder, those with a combination of disorders may experience more severe medical and mental health challenges and may also require longer periods of treatment.

What are Common Co-occurring Disorders?

Several members in the field of psychology and counseling have performed extensive research to better understand co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis. Many common co-occurring disorders include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Substance Dependence/Abuse
  • Mood Disorders
  • Trauma/Stressor Related Disorders (PTSD)

The symptoms of the aforementioned mental health diagnoses often times are quite similar, however, the treatment for these disorders may vary drastically. According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, many who are diagnosed with the major depressive disorder also meet the criteria for a formal diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. Likewise, someone may struggle with substance use, but the cause for substance dependency is rooted in a history of post-traumatic stress disorder or complex trauma. In a nutshell, treating co-occurring disorders can become difficult and confusing. Co-occurring disorders are more prevalent than one may think.

The National Institute of Health estimates “individuals with drug use disorders (other than alcohol), rates of co-occurring mood disorders were found to be 26%; rates of anxiety disorders were found to be 28%…”. Several evidence-based methods are utilized by hospitals, clinics, private practices, free clinics, and other community behavioral health organizations on a daily basis to aid in treating these disorders. Some common treatment approaches include:

  • Psychodynamic Therapy (“Talk” Therapy)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Family Systems Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Alcohol and Other Drug Therapies (AODA)

Causes of Co-Occurring Disorders

co-occurring disorder treatmentWhat is a co-occurring disorder and what causes it? It’s important to note that neither is a direct causation of the other. They are often found or diagnosed concurrently and may, instead, contribute to one another. Treatment of co-occurring disorders is often difficult. It’s critical that both mental health treatment and substance addiction are handled by qualified professionals with knowledge in addressing these respective issues. Too often, people with co-occurring disorders are at higher risk for many additional problems such as:

  • symptomatic relapses
  • Hospitalizations
  • financial problems
  • social isolation
  • family problems
  • Homelessness
  • sexual and physical victimization
  • Incarceration
  • serious medical illnesses.

Mental health and substance use disorders result from a variety of factors. For instance, certain people carry a higher genetic risk, but outside environmental factors may also contribute.

As a whole, people with mental health disorders are more likely to have a substance use disorder. Roughly half of the individuals who have either a mental illness or a substance use disorder will have the other at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

According to the DSM-5, an increased risk of an alcohol use disorder, for example, is associated with conditions including bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, and antisocial personality disorder, and alcohol use disorder may also be related to certain anxiety and depressive disorders. Other substance-related disorders also commonly co-occur with distinct psychiatric conditions. As in the case of opioid use disorder and depressive disorders, it is possible that a substance use problem leads to the development of other mental health challenges or that it worsens a preexisting disorder.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment With AspenRidge

co-occurring disorderAccording to SAMHSA, approximately 9.2 million adults are living with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. Further, those who have experienced mental health issues or suffer from serious mental illnesses are significantly more likely to use cigarettes, illicit drugs, and marijuana; to misuse opioid pain relievers; and to engage in binge alcohol use, compared with individuals without mental illness. Those who misuse substances, regardless of the substance, are significantly more likely to experience serious mental health conditions.

Individuals may struggle with underlying trauma, depression, anxiety, and other factors that can greatly contribute to substance dependency. As a result, treatment programs may result in relapse if the underlying causes of addictions are not addressed. It’s important, therefore, to seek a dual-diagnosis center that is uniquely designed to address mental health and substance misuse and addictions.

AspenRidge Recovery has licensed clinicians that can provide evidence-based treatment for both mental health and substance use disorder at our Colorado addiction treatment center. We understand that everyone’s situation is different and that’s why we offer personalized treatment programs with different levels of support. Our extended-care treatment model works and 80% of alumni that complete our PHP and IOP program report being sober a year after they start treatment. We offer a wide range of services that treat a variety of substance addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders.

We offer several outpatient addiction treatment programs where you or your loved one can work or stay connected to their home life while getting the help they need, Our admissions counselors will help find the right program for you in our initial assessment. Understanding individual needs are important in designing a proper treatment plan. AspenRidge Recovery offers a free assessment and further education to allow the most effective and efficient treatment process.

AspenRidge Recovery has continued to be a leader in treating co-occurring mental health and substance use throughout Colorado and has multiple locations in Lakewood, Fort Collins, and Lone Tree. AspenRidge offers several different treatment programs to address substance use and mental health concerns.

The mission of the staff at AspenRidge is rooted in a strong desire to help each and every individual to understand that true recovery is possible and our staff members are here to support each person on their road to recover and give them the tools they need for long-term wellness. AspenRidge accepts several commercial payers and is dedicated to providing a smooth transition into treatment.

Our Admissions counselors are here to help in any way they can – even if our program is not the best fit for you. If you or your loved one are ready to get help, give us a call any time at 855-281-5588.

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