Co-Occurring Disorders

Addiction can happen alongside other mental health disorders, like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder or an eating disorder. Co-occurring disorders, sometimes called dual diagnosis, refers to combined mental health and substance use disorders. About half of people with a substance use disorder will experience a mental illness at some point during their lives.

When someone has a co-occurring mental health disorder and substance use disorder, it is important that they receive treatment to address both. It’s crucial to identify the underlying problem and heal the whole person instead of only managing the symptoms of a deeper issue. Whether you have already been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders or need help identifying the root of your addiction, specialists at The Recovery Village Columbus can provide treatment for both conditions.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Those struggling with a drug or alcohol use disorder also commonly face:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders

Signs of co-occurring disorders involve mental health symptoms that occur alongside a substance use disorder. Some common mental symptoms include:

  • Excessive worry or fear
  • Extreme feelings of sadness
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or learning
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Intense and long-lasting irritability or anger
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Suffering from physical problems that otherwise have no medical explanation, including stomach ache or muscle pain, for example
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Thoughts of suicide

Common substance use disorder symptoms include:

  • Strong drug cravings
  • Being unable to cut back on drug use, despite wanting to do so
  • Continuing to misuse substances even when it causes a health problem or leads to relationship problems
  • Giving up other activities in order to use drugs or being unable to meet responsibilities because of substance use
  • Tolerance, which means larger quantities of the drug are needed to achieve the same effects
  • Withdrawal symptoms that occur when trying to stop using drugs
  • Spending a lot of time seeking out or using drugs

Who Needs Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment?

While it is difficult to identify co-occurring disorders because of the combined effects and overlap of symptoms between substance misuse and mental health conditions, a dual diagnosis and corresponding treatment may be necessary if the following signs are present:

  • Drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms like cravings and withdrawals that accompany mental health concerns
  • Depression, anxiety, grief, anger or other negative emotions that intrude on everyday living
  • High tolerance for substances being used
  • Performing risky behavior to maintain drug use
  • Extreme changes in behavior
  • Perceived inability to function without alcohol or drugs
  • Difficulties in relationships at home, in the community, at work or school caused by symptoms
  • Using substances to mask symptoms of sadness or anxiety, or to “numb” painful emotions

An Ohio treatment center that offers dual diagnosis services can provide a comprehensive assessment to determine the exact nature of a co-occurring disorder as well as identify necessary interventions.

What to Expect During the Treatment Process

Because mental health and addiction often go hand-in-hand, it can be difficult to determine which disorder came first. A mental or mood disorder may have preceded a substance use disorder, or addiction may have led to mental or mood struggles. Both disorders require treatment to manage their effects and understand how they relate to each other. By addressing both conditions, The Recovery Village Columbus lays a path for full rehabilitation by assessing the patient and implementing a unique treatment plan.

The first step to treating co-occurring disorders is diagnosis. This can be done by a physician who recognizes one of the conditions. They will then determine whether or not a dual diagnosis is necessary by examining additional behavioral and mental factors. This can be completed before or after arriving at The Recovery Village Columbus.

Once a patient has arrived for treatment, they will work with a team of specialists to determine specific treatment goals. The program will then focus on the individual’s personal objectives, like independent living or returning to a former career. 

Each person’s treatment plan varies depending upon their unique needs, but what is most important is that The Recovery Village Columbus is able to provide care that addresses both the mental health condition and the substance use disorder. If the addiction is treated but the mental health condition is ignored, a person may relapse in order to self-medicate their mental health symptoms. 

The treatment team will then establish a series of steps that may include detox, personal, group or family therapy, medications and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation and life coaching. By identifying potential situational threats and triggers, the team can structure an aftercare plan that prepares a patient for potential challenges they will face in staying sober or maintaining mental health at home.

Dual Diagnosis vs. Co-Occurring Disorders

Dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders are sometimes used interchangeably. At The Recovery Village Columbus, we use the term “co-occurring disorders” to describe a situation in which a person has both an addiction and a mental health disorder. Our approach to treat these disorders is called “dual diagnosis treatment.”

What to Expect During the Treatment Process

Because mental health and addiction often go hand-in-hand, it can be difficult to determine which disorder came first. A mental or mood disorder may have preceded a substance use disorder, or addiction may have led to mental or mood struggles. Both disorders require treatment to manage their effects and understand how they relate to each other. By addressing both conditions, The Recovery Village Columbus lays a path for full rehabilitation by assessing the patient and implementing a unique treatment plan.

The first step to treating co-occurring disorders is diagnosis. This can be done by a physician who recognizes one of the conditions. They will then determine whether or not a dual diagnosis is necessary by examining additional behavioral and mental factors. This can be completed before or after arriving at The Recovery Village Columbus.

Once a patient has arrived for treatment, they will work with a team of specialists to determine specific treatment goals. The program will then focus on the individual’s personal objectives, like independent living or returning to a former career. 

Each person’s treatment plan varies depending upon their unique needs, but what is most important is that The Recovery Village Columbus is able to provide care that addresses both the mental health condition and the substance use disorder. If the addiction is treated but the mental health condition is ignored, a person may relapse in order to self-medicate their mental health symptoms. 

The treatment team will then establish a series of steps that may include detox, personal, group or family therapy, medications and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation and life coaching. By identifying potential situational threats and triggers, the team can structure an aftercare plan that prepares a patient for potential challenges they will face in staying sober or maintaining mental health at home.

Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment Plan

While co-occurring disorders are treated according to a unique plan outlined for each patient, treatment generally includes some of or all of the following:

Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment Plan

Co-occurring disorders treatment is multifaceted and may include a blend of therapy sessions and medication (when medically appropriate). “Talk therapy” is an important part of understanding personal identity and addressing underlying issues that contribute to addiction and mental health. These counseling sessions help rebuild mental health by strengthening communication, improving family relationships and replacing harmful thoughts and behaviors with healthier perspectives. Therapy programs may include:

  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Safe, non-addictive medications
  • Aftercare support

Your Recovery Is Possible

Living with a dual diagnosis is a challenge that you don’t have to face alone. With an estimated 51.5 million Americans over the age of 18 experiencing mental health issues, and 20% of Ohio adults living with a mental health condition within a given year,  there is no shame in reaching out for help. Like your physical health, mental health is a key factor for a successful life. When combined with the confines of addiction, mental health disorders can become co-occurring disorders that severely limit your potential.

By treating substance use disorders and mental health issues together, you can learn to overcome the effects of both. There are several resources throughout Ohio, including online co-occurring disorders worksheets and in-person therapy. The Recovery Village Columbus serves all of Ohio and the rest of the United States with comprehensive care for dual diagnosis. With the help of a caring staff and personalized treatment plan, you can identify and understand your struggles for sustained recovery. Call us today to get started.

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Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village Columbus aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.