Co-Occurring Disorders: Treating Mental Health and Addiction

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Tackling an addiction can be difficult enough, but often a struggle with substance use goes hand-in-hand with a mental health disorder. These two conditions occurring together are referred to as co-occurring disorders: an individual is not only addicted but is also facing issues with their mental health as well. You may also hear the term dual diagnosis used interchangeably with co-occurring disorders.

Unfortunately, dual diagnoses aren’t rare. In fact, the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that over 8 million adults had both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder.

How Do Co-Occurring Disorders Happen?

Individuals with a mental health disorder face a higher risk of struggling with addiction. Substance use may develop as a way to cope with the symptoms of their disorder, which may include depression, anxiety, among others. Once the effects of the substance wear off, people may use again to suppress negative feelings or emotions.

On the other hand, when substance abuse is present, symptoms of mental health disorders typically worsen. Alcohol or drugs can also be a form of self-medication for individuals with a mood or psychiatric disorder.

If left untreated, it’s likely that symptoms of both disorders will persist.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

For people with co-occurring disorders, effective treatment means treating both disorders; however, it can be difficult to separate the symptoms of the mental health disorder from the consequences of the addiction.

It’s up to psychiatric and clinical professionals to determine the root causes of their clients’ issues and then provide the necessary treatments, including counseling, therapy, education, and medication when appropriate.

Although dual diagnosis treatment can be more difficult or lengthy, it doesn’t make it impossible to achieve recovery. A treatment center with expert psychiatric and addiction staff who are able to create an integrated plan to address both conditions simultaneously can make a true difference for an individual with a dual diagnosis.

Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment Right for You?

To help determine if dual diagnosis treatment is right for you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do substances worsen your mental health symptoms?
  • Do you use substances to suppress negative feelings and unpleasant memories?
  • Do you still feel anxious, depressed, sad, or angry even when you stop using substances?
  • Does your family have a history of mental health disorders or substance abuse?

Importantly, discuss with an addiction counselor if you are worried about symptoms of a mental health disorder. They can help you determine what type of treatment is best for you.

Pyramid Healthcare has specialized dual diagnosis treatment centers for adults and teens throughout Pennsylvania. Many Pyramid Healthcare clinicians and counselors are certified to treat individuals with co-occurring disorders, meaning they have the expertise to provide effective care. We pride ourselves on providing a safe and comfortable environment for those receiving dual diagnosis treatment.

Contact us for more information on dual diagnosis treatment.

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