Co-Occurring Disorders

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

Addiction is often a manifestation of other mental health or mood disorder issues 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. According to 2014 reports, 7.9 million people in America suffer from co-occurring disorders, struggling to balance drug or alcohol use and a mental disorder.

By addressing both matters at once, it is possible to identify the underlying problem and heal the whole person instead of just managing the symptoms of a deeper issue. Whether you have already been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders or need help identifying the root of addiction, The Recovery Village specialists can help treat a wide variety of disorders at the Columbus, Ohio facility or other locations throughout the country.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction also commonly face:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorder
  • Personality disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Who Needs Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment?

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

  • Drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms like cravings and withdrawals
  • Depression, anxiety, grief, anger, etc. that intrude on everyday living
  • High tolerance for substances being used
  • Risky behavior to maintain the addictive habit
  • Extreme changes in behavior
  • Perceived inability to function without alcohol or drugs
  • Difficulties in relationships at home, in the community and at work or school caused by symptoms
  • Physical and mental health problems

What to Expect During the Treatment Process

Because mental health and addiction often go hand-in-hand, it can be difficult to ascertain 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. In most cases, the order in which the disorders occurred is not a heavily weighted factor in treatment. Both disorders require equal treatment in order to manage their effects and understand how they relate to each other. By addressing them both at once, The Recovery Village lays a path for full rehabilitation by assessing the patient and implementing a unique treatment plan for each patient.

The first step to treating co-occurring disorders is diagnosis. This can be done by a physician who recognizes the initial disorder (whether it be substance abuse or mental health) and then determines whether or not a dual diagnosis is necessary by examining additional behavioral and mental factors.

This step can be completed before or after arriving at The Recovery Village. Once a patient has arrived, they will be assessed and work with a team of specialists to determine specific goals for treatment. The program will then focus on the individual’s personal objectives, like independent living or returning to a former career.

The treatment team will then form 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, 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 an individual plan outlined for each patient, treatment generally includes some of or all of the following:

Why Participate in Therapy for Co-Occurring Disorders?

Treating co-occurring disorders is necessary to fully heal from addiction and manage mental illness. Treating one issue without the other is rarely successful. The Recovery Village takes into account a patient’s entire history to help them identify and overcome the root of addiction or mental illness, making the program one of the most specialized in the country.

Dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders treatment is multifaceted and may include a blend of psychotherapy and medication. While medication is not always used during treatment for a substance use disorder, it may be beneficial when recovering from a combination of addiction and mental illness.

The Recovery Village’s licensed professionals help determine an appropriate course of action that may or may not include medication alongside counseling sessions and co-occurring disorders group activities. “Talk therapy” is an important part of understanding your personal identity and addressing underlying issues that contribute to addiction and mental illness. These counseling sessions help rebuild mental health by strengthening communication methods, improving family relationships and replacing harmful thoughts and behaviors with positive perspectives. Therapy programs may include:

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

Your Recovery Is Possible

Living with 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 illness, there is no shame in understanding your needs. 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 impact and limit your potential.

By treating substance use disorders and mental health issues together, you can learn to balance the two and 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 a personalized treatment plan, you can identify and understand your struggles for sustained recovery to live your best life.


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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.