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The Relationship between Co-Occurring Disorders and Addiction

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The good news is that there are successful treatment options for co-occurring disorders and addiction. Dual diagnosis, or individuals with a substance use disorder and a subsequent mental health disorder, is more common than people may think. Mental health professionals must differentiate between treatment therapies for the substance use disorder and secondly for the mental health disorder(s) to find an integration of tools for the eventual total treatment plan.

For total healing, each disorder must be addressed and treated separately for an optimal recovery process. On the other hand, many people do not recognize the existence of this diagnosis and may not understand the implications if the diagnosis is left uncovered. 

Defining A Co-Occurring Disorders

When a co-occurring disorder is present, there is a coexistence of a mental health condition and a substance use disorder. This situation describes a high percentage of those with a substance use disorder, as the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 21.5 million adults in the United States have co-occurring disorders. The diagnosis describing this problem is a dual diagnosis requiring specialty care. 

Those with alcohol and drug use disorders often experience the following mental health conditions at the same time, which need to have separate treatment plans. 

  • Anxiety and mood disorders, including depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Conduct disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 

The Relationship between Co-Occurring Disorders and Addiction

Individuals with co-occurring disorders and addiction have additional risk factors requiring specialty care. Each disorder requires a separate evaluation and treatment plan. With an increase in symptoms to consider, there is a higher risk of suicide, a higher risk for trauma, and significant levels of social, financial, and legal concerns.

There is often a direct connection between medication for a mental condition evolving into a substance use disorder, requiring professionals to evaluate these issues while forming a treatment plan for success. 

Examples of Alcohol and Depression and Cocaine and Depression

Alcohol use disorders commonly co-occur with mood disorders, typically depression. According to an article in The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism describing the co-occurring mental health disorders associated with an alcohol use disorder, there are vital factors to consider. Genetics and family history are bold predictors of both conditions. Another factor that contributes to both conditions is environmental factors. The article states that people with major depressive disorder and an alcohol use disorder range from 27% to 40% during their lifetimes. explores cocaine use disorders and co-occurring disorders and finds that those with depression may look to cocaine use as a coping mechanism for depressive symptoms. Although this is the case in some situations, in other cases, a cocaine use disorder can lead to the development of depression. In both situations, problems occurring from each condition, as well as the symptoms, can lead to feeling sad and depressed. It is truly a unique individual experience as to what disorder came first. 

Which Comes First?

It is understandable to wonder, with co-occurring disorders and addiction, which one came first. During the evaluation and assessment in the initial phase of addiction treatment, professionals follow evidence-based guidelines to establish what condition appears first. It is difficult to procure the information the professional needs to establish the timeframe for the co-occurring conditions with an unwell individual. However, the challenge remains to establish a primary and secondary diagnosis. 

During the evaluation, professionals ask a series of questions concerning the symptoms an individual experiences. The possibility of a substance use disorder developing as a coping mechanism for the symptoms of a mental health condition is likely. However, after the brain chemistry adapts through substance use, the development of a mental health condition can occur from adverse levels of neurotransmitters. This is why professionals gather data and compare the details of each diagnosis to make a firm determination. 

Another possibility is that both conditions develop due to outside forces, like trauma or continual extreme stress. Many factors contribute to determining a correct diagnosis, but obtaining as much information as possible during intake is always beneficial. All factors leading to the diagnosis will determine the therapies most helpful in each case. The basic evaluation findings also affect medication considerations for treatment. 

What is the Treatment Process?

The treatment process for co-occurring disorders and addiction, or dual diagnosis, begins with medical detox to treat the addiction. Specialty care after the detox is complete offers many options. A comprehensive treatment plan offers a thorough roadmap for self-discovery and recovery healing.

The goal is to utilize evidence-based therapies, such as CBT, in combination with holistic methods to empower the clients for longevity in sobriety. Focusing on a whole-person approach to healing the body and mind promotes a focus on the balance of physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life. 

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a significant treatment option for several purposes. Utilizing MAT in conjunction with individual therapy and other types of treatment options is typically beneficial for the relief of symptoms and for reducing drug or alcohol cravings.

Once an individual feels relief from annoying or distracting symptoms, the focus can remain on therapy and self-discovery. With professional guidance, MAT is a highly successful part of recovery. 

Why Co-Occurring Disorders and Addiction Detox Are Key

Medical management during addiction detox is essential for ridding the body of the toxic effects of drugs or alcohol. This process lays the foundation for successful treatment of both conditions.

Offering professional guidance throughout the detox program for those with a dual diagnosis offers a separation and special consideration of the symptoms the patient experiences throughout the detox process. Specialty dual diagnosis care during detox offers safety and compassionate care to avoid any relapse possibilities. 

Get Dual Diagnosis Specialty Care in California

Co-occurring disorders, such as a mental health condition and substance use disorders, can be complicated to treat successfully. Sierra Health + Wellness in California offers specialty care for dual diagnosis as a specialty treatment option. Combining a setting that provides peace and well-being with outstanding care for those experiencing more than one condition results in a positive, elevated journey in healing.

Contact Sierra Health + Wellness today to learn more about a life-changing program.