CO-OCCURING DISORDERS

CO-OCCURING DISORDERS

People battling mental health conditions often turn to drugs or alcohol to ease their symptoms. Clinically it is known as a co-occurring disorder. Treating a co-occurring disorder involves more intensive treatment options than if they were only suffering from one or the other. Substance abuse and mental health symptoms become interchangeable and can effectively worsen both conditions.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SUBSTANCE
USE DISORDER & OTHER MENTAL ILLNESS

Substance abuse can trigger the onset of symptoms of another mental illness. Substance use can also produce symptoms that mimic a mental illness but go away once the person stops using (often referred to as “substance-induced” symptoms). Mental illness may also precede and contribute to substance abuse, especially as a self-medication technique to relieve anxiety, sadness, or discomfort.

CO-OCCURRING DISORDERS MAY
RESULT FROM:

Genetic Factors
Genetic flaws may boost the chance of both substance use disorder and other mental illness. Furthermore, substance use may act as an epigenetic factor by turning on genes linked to mental illness that would not otherwise be switched on were it not for the drug.

Environmental Factors
Trauma like physical or sexual abuse, military combat, childhood or adolescent exposure to substance use, as well as mental illness may all contribute to a higher risk of developing substance use disorders and other mental conditions.

Developmental Factors
During teenage years and early adulthood, when the brain undergoes enormous developmental transformations, substance use disorder and other mental illnesses frequently appear. Early exposure to drugs can potentially affect brain growth, increasing the incidence of mental illness and vice versa.

Studies have found that to optimize treatment, those with co-occurring disorders should receive: a comprehensive, long-term approach delivered in stages; assertive outreach (as opposed to more passive clinical strategies); person-centered motivational interventions; help acquiring skills and support for managing both illnesses and pursuing functional goals; cultural sensitivity and competence.

MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS COMMONLY
OCCURRING WITH SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS

Chronic illness and addiction have become a severe problem for millions of Americans. Often, physical and psychological illnesses are experienced alongside drug or alcohol use disorders. One in four Americans diagnosed with severe psychiatric disorders also has cooccurring substance abuse symptoms. Some of the most prominent psychological problems that co-occur with drug addiction are:

Personality Disorders

SUD sufferers commonly also suffer from antisocial, borderline, avoidant, and paranoid personality disorders. However, those with borderline personality disorder are often more likely to fall into this pattern.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

In many cases, SUDs and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) co-occur. People who have experienced traumatic experiences are four times more likely to develop a co-existing condition than those who haven’t.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is associated with an onset of substance use from an earlier age than other disorders. It also poses a higher likelihood of the use of a variety of substances. Among individuals with ADHD, the severity of symptoms exhibited correlates directly with the risk of substance use.

Anxiety Disorders

People suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder are more likely also to experience co-occurring disorders. Social anxiety disorders, in particular, have an especially strong link to the development of substance use disorders with drugs like marijuana and cocaine.

Mood disorders

Mood disorders like bipolar are also closely associated with the risk of co-occurring disorders.

DUAL DIAGNOSIS VS. COMORBIDITY VS.
CO-OCCURRING DISORDERS

The distinctions can seem a bit academic, though they can generally be interpreted interchangeably. In some cases, dual diagnosis is being replaced by the concept of co-occurring disorders. Still, both can describe a situation where a person has a substance use disorder and a psychiatric disorder. Each condition is described as a comorbidity of the other, but the term is widely used beyond the mental health and behavioral health fields also to describe medical conditions. Dual diagnosis is used more in the psychiatric field to describe individuals who simultaneously experience two or more psychiatric conditions.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CO-OCCURRING
CONDITIONS

Co-occurring disorders are characterized by symptoms that overlap between a mental health issue and a substance use problem. The particular symptoms of both mental health problems and substance abuse issues can vary significantly, with physical, behavioral, and emotional changes in every instance. Because each mental illness has distinct diagnostic criteria and indicators, accurate diagnosis is critical.

HOW ARE CO-OCCURRING DISORDERS
DIAGNOSED?

It can be challenging to tell if someone has a mental or substance use disorder (SUD) because they often have similar risk factors and share overlapping symptoms. For example, some withdrawal symptoms from drugs mimic those of a mental illness. That’s why it’s crucial for doctors to screen for both when someone presents with one issue. Additional assessments may be needed after some time has passed without using drugs or alcohol to accurately distinguish between intoxication/withdrawal symptoms and those of a mental health disorder.

TREATMENT PLANS FOR CO-OCCURRING
DISORDERS

A comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation is required to assess the client’s needs, identify their strengths, and discover potential roadblocks to recovery. Using this information, the treatment team may develop a comprehensive approach to care that addresses substance abuse and mental illness together.

Facilities have a higher chance of success if they integrate their mental health and recovery services. Patients are more likely to stick with the treatment plan and see positive results by simultaneously addressing both issues. Without treating both addiction and mental illness, it’s probable that an individual will drop out early or relapse.

When patients enter treatment, their treatment team will collaborate with them to develop a strategy that includes mental health therapies and addiction treatments. Medical experts will determine the clients’ aftercare plan, including critical post-treatment care, as they progress through therapy. It’s crucial to ensure this is in place and ready for them to go into an outpatient program or another similar continuous care setting after completing treatment.

WHAT ARE THE BEST OPTIONS FOR TREATING
CO-OCCURRING DISORDERS?

Co-occurring disorders should generally be treated together using an approach known as an integrated treatment. The result is that you receive treatment for the addiction and the associated mental health condition simultaneously. Depending on the drug you use, and your mental health diagnosis, treatment for co-occurring illnesses may include medication, counseling, and behavioral therapy. In addition, treatment integration can also help address a range of needs, including housing, employment, and social interaction.

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE IN AN
INTEGRATED TREATMENT PROGRAM?

Psyclarity Health integrated treatment programs can involve a combination of therapy and prescription medication. The goal of integrated treatment is to help people with co occurring disorders learn how to maintain sobriety and manage their mental illness symptoms. Our treatment teams work together with medical and psychiatric professionals to develop a comprehensive treatment program tailored to your needs. Your treatment planning team will establish benchmarks for measuring your progress, and medical professionals on the team will prescribe medicine, if needed, for any severe mental illness. Integrated treatment varies from person to person but generally includes the following:

Inpatient and Outpatient Care
Inpatient or outpatient treatment is appropriate for co-occurring disorders because the therapeutic models for these service levels are often similar. Many shared techniques are employed across co-occurring disorders and substance use disorders. Residential treatment options give organized, supervised support for rehabilitation. People in residential programs may have an easier time focusing on their recovery since they are no longer confronted with day-to-day problems and triggers. An outpatient rehabilitation program could be the ideal method to get adequate therapy without interfering with teenagers’ or parents’ essential daily routines if they do not require 24- hour monitoring.

Detox
Detox is a common first step when someone seeks assistance with a co-occurring condition. The detoxification process involves eliminating chemicals and poisons from their bodies. Some individuals experience severe physical symptoms during part of detox, which might have significant mental health ramifications. In a program that offers treatment for co occurring disorders, medical professionals will help manage all the withdrawal symptoms and tend to any mental health implications.

Behavioral therapies
Behavior therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy, have become essential to integrated therapy treatment plans. This type of therapy focuses on making changes to negative thought processes or behaviors. Behavioral therapies can help you work on specific issues in individual therapy, or you can participate in groups that are designed for your unique needs.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This therapy helps people alter unhealthy thoughts and behaviors and replace them with healthier ways of thinking and behaving. Considered the “gold standard” for treating mental health conditions, this may be an incredibly effective treatment for people living with co-occurring addiction and mental illness.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
This treatment benefits those struggling with co-occurring disorders by cutting down on harmful behaviors, suicide attempts, and substance abuse.

Integrated Group Therapy
Group therapy is helpful for adults with co occurring mental health and substance use disorders. IGT emphasizes abstinence from substance use and centers on improving symptom recognition for substance use and mood regulation, skill training for relapse prevention and life functioning, and medication adherence.

BENEFITS OF INTEGRATED TREATMENT PROGRAMS
FOR SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER & MENTAL ILLNESS.

Integrated treatment strategies are made to fit each patient’s unique needs. The integrated care treatment model is considered the standard of care by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) when treating individuals with cooccurring substance misuse and mental health disorders. This therapy approach has been connected to a variety of positive results. People who engage in integrated treatment are more likely to stay sober and experience a substantial reduction in their symptoms. They need to visit the hospital less often. They can live independently and maintain steady employment and report feeling generally happier with their lives.

INTEGRATED TREATMENT AT
PSYCLARITY HEALTH

You deserve to get your life back. Psyclarity Health can offer comprehensive, integrated care to help you reach your recovery goals. Our extensive offering of therapies and inpatient and outpatient programs will provide you with the help you need for long-term recovery. Our facilities are located all around the country, so there’s sure to be one near you. Call us today and let us help you start your journey to healing. We guarantee discretion and will work with you every step of the way.

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