The term ‘Co-Occurring Disorder’ refers to if you suffer from a mental health disorder and also a substance use disorder, at the same time. The combination of the two means you have disorders that occur at the same time as one another. If you haven’t ever heard the term co-occurring disorders, you are not the only one. Most individuals do not have an accurate understanding of the term. Basically, if someone has been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders it means that you have at least two psychological disorders that occur because of one another.
These co-occurring disorders will work hand in hand and keep an individual reliant on substances until treatment is given. Quiet simply, you can think about individuals with alcohol addiction and folks experiencing obsessive and compulsive tendencies at the same time. Co-occurring disorders include a couple of psychological problems that that must be dealt with individually along with a pair of treatments simultaneously which will treat and isolate one from the other.
Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders
- Irregular heartbeat
- Decreased appetite
- Poor performance at work or school
- Social withdrawal
- Inability to sleep
- Sweaty palms, shaky hands
- Sudden shifts in personality or attitude
- Nausea and vomiting
To treat and overcome co-occurring issues, it is necessary for a medical professional or doctor to take care of both problems at one time. If the hidden reason behind dependency remains neglected, the patient may slide back into easy, comfortable habits once the treatment is done. If both problems are handled concurrently, named dual diagnosis therapy, there is no primary trigger left to cause the sufferer to relapse. Because the diseases depend on each other, doing away with them both may be the only technique to effectively deal with co-occurring ailments.
Types of Disorders
Determining the relationship between co-occurring disorders and addiction can be helpful in treating you or a loved one by understanding how the two are connected and what is triggering them. Below are listed some of the most common co-occurring disorders that usually happen in conjunction with addiction.
Mood and Anxiety Disorders
Most people will experience some sort of anxiety throughout their life, but someone with an anxiety disorder will have extreme anxiety that does not go away over time. The symptoms are so severe that they interfere with work, school and/or relationships. The different types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety, various phobia-related disorders, and panic disorder.
A serious illness that affects the way a person behaves, feels, and thinks. They may seem “out of it” or that they have lost touch with reality. This disorder causes a lot of stress for the person going through it, their family, and friends.
A mental health disorder, also known as manic depression or manic-depression illness, that causes uncharacteristic changes in behaviors, mood, concentration, activity levels, energy, and the ability to manage daily tasks.
Major Depressive Disorder
Also referred to as depression, a serious and common mood disorder that affects how you think, and handle daily activities including working, sleeping, and eating. To be formally diagnosed, you must be exhibiting symptoms for at least two weeks.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
A disorder that occurs due to a scary, shocking, or dangerous event and creates extreme reactions due to its’ triggers. It is normal to feel worried or preoccupied with the feelings you experienced during a traumatic event, but with PTSD you continue to experience problems long after the event has occurred.
Addiction and Comorbidity
People who are experiencing a mental health disorder are much more likely to develop a substance use disorder. According to a study performed by SAMHSA’s 2018 National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, more than 9 million people in the United States are diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder. It is common for people to who have a MAT (medically assisted treatment) to experience a co-occurring disorder.
“People with substance use disorders are at particular risk for developing one or more primary conditions or chronic diseases. The coexistence of both a mental illness and a substance use disorder, known as a co-occurring disorder, is common among people in medication-assisted treatment (MAT).” (Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration, 2020)
It is pertinent to mention, that someone who is treated for a mental health disorder with medications such as for anxiety, can be at risk if they are treated with additional medications for their MAT. In order to determine the best treatment for both a substance use disorder or co-occurring disorder, a person should see a doctor or physician who can prescribe the proper and most effective medication.
Treating Co-Occurring Disorders
Substance use disorders and mental health disorders can affect anyone, in any age range, gender or ethnic background. Although, many people are diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, it is possible to be treated and achieve a full recovery.
“These illnesses are common, recurrent, and often serious, but they are treatable, and many people do recover. Mental disorders involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior. These disorders can affect how we relate to others and make choices. Reaching a level that can be formally diagnosed often depends on a reduction in a person’s ability to function as a result of the disorder.” (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2020)
Typically, someone with comorbidity needs to be treated by a team of professionals who specialize in physical health, homelessness, legal issues, vocational skills, and many more depending on the disorders. Different types of therapies such as behavioral methods, medications and holistic treatments can all be used to treat co-occurring disorders and allow the person to gain a full recovery.
If you or someone you know is experiencing co-occurring mental health disorders, reach out to someone right away for help. There are many mental health professionals that can work with you on diagnosing and treating your condition to determine proper treatment.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020, April 30). Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders. https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disorders
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020, Aug 19). Co-Occurring Disorders and Other Health Conditions. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/co-occurring-disorders