When you have both a substance abuse problem and a mental health issue such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, it is called a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. Dealing with substance abuse, alcoholism, or drug addiction is never easy, and it’s even more difficult when you’re also struggling with mental health problems.
Each case is unique and there are a variety of reasons why these disorders are often diagnosed together. Some people experience mental health issues first, while others misuse substances before any mental illness symptoms begin. Mental health disorders make it more likely that an individual will develop a substance use disorder, especially if these disorders are left untreated. On the flip side, substance abuse, especially at the level addiction level, greatly worsens the severity and frequency of most mental health issues. When a mental health problem goes untreated, the substance abuse problem usually gets worse. And when alcohol or drug abuse increases, mental health problems usually increase too.
In co-occurring disorders, both the mental health issue and the drug or alcohol addiction have their own unique symptoms that may get in the way of your ability to function at work or school, maintain a stable home life, handle life's difficulties, and relate to others. How common are co-occurring disorders? Co-occurring substance abuse problems and mental health issues are more common than many people realize.
People with mental health disorders are more likely to have a substance use disorder than those who do not. Roughly half of individuals who have either a mental illness or a substance use disorder will have the other at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Each case is unique and there are a variety of reasons why these disorders are often diagnosed together. Some people experience mental health issues first, while others misuse substances before any mental illness symptoms begin. Symptoms of a Co-occurring Disorders/ Dual Diagnosis The symptoms of a dual diagnosis are determined by the specific combination of disorders that are present. Each combination, along with the unique features of each, will have certain associated symptoms. For example, someone with depression who also develops an alcohol use disorder with have entirely different symptoms of the individual with anxiety disorder who has developed a benzodiazepine addiction.
However, because having a dual diagnosis will further disrupt life it is good to know the common symptoms that are often evident:
Erratic behaviors, impulsivity, high risk behaviors
Moodiness, mood swings
Declining performance at work or school
Difficulty maintaining healthy relationships
Sudden personality changes
Difficulty managing responsibilities and daily obligations
Avoidance of social events, social isolating
Engaging in high-risk behaviors
Thoughts of suicide and death
Mounting legal problems
Withdrawal symptoms, severe hangovers
What are examples of co-occurring disorders?
Mental health conditions that commonly co-occur with substance use disorders include anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and personality disorders
Two entwined problems
Co-occurring disorders can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms of substance abuse or addiction can mask symptoms of mental illness, and symptoms of mental illness can be confused with symptoms of addiction. People with mental health disorders sometimes do not address their substance use because they do not believe it is relevant to their problems.
However, some typical patterns do emerge among those with co-occurring disorders:
A worsening of mental health symptoms even while receiving treatment. Those diagnosed with mental health disorders often use substances to feel better. People who are anxious may want something to make them feel calm; people who are depressed may want something to make them feel more animated; people who are fearful of others may want something to make them feel more relaxed and less inhibited; and people who are in psychological pain may want something to make them feel numb.
Using alcohol or other drugs not only fails to repair the mental health disorder but also prevents a person from developing effective coping skills, having satisfying relationships, and feeling comfortable with themselves. Alcohol also interferes with medications prescribed for mental health disorders. In short, drug and alcohol use make mental health disorders worse.
Alcohol or substance use problems that seem resistant to treatment. People with co-occurring disorders may stop using alcohol or other drugs, but they will find difficulties as the symptoms of their mental health disorders persist. Treatment centres and clinicians and addiction specialists may not be prepared to address both conditions. And some traditional peer recovery groups may insist on abstinence from all drugs - even medications prescribed for mental health disorders. As a result, people with co-occurring disorders find it very difficult to treat their substance-use problems without also treating their mental health disorders.
There are a few theories about how mental health and substance abuse interact:
Mental illness can lead to substance abuse. People will often try to self-medicate debilitating mental health issues like depression, anxiety, intrusive trauma memories or hallucinations through the use of drugs or alcohol.
Drugs, alcohol and addictive behavior often make mental illness worse. Sometimes, substances increase the likelihood of psychosis or trigger latent mental illnesses in individuals who were already prone to various conditions.
Addiction and mental illness may have common roots. Both addiction and mental health disorders may be related to genetic heritability, exposure to trauma or ongoing stress, or even physical health conditions.
What are the barriers to getting treatment?
Even among people who want to find help, barriers exist to receiving it.
Among adults with co-occurring disorders who did not receive mental health care, their reasons for not receiving it were:
52.2% said they could not afford the cost.
23.8% said they did not know where to go for treatment.
23.0% said they could handle the problem without treatment.
13.6% said they feared being committed.
12.4% said it might cause their neighbors to have a negative opinion of them.
11.1% said they did not think treatment would help.
10.6% said they did not have the time.
10.1% said they were concerned about confidentiality.
Among adults with co-occurring disorders who did not receive substance use care, their reasons for not receiving it were:
38.4% said they were not ready to stop using.
35.1% said they had no health insurance and could not afford the cost.
13.1% said it might cause their neighbors to have a negative opinion of them.
13.0% said it might have a negative effect on their job.
11.5% said they did not know where to go for treatment.
9.9% said they had insurance, but it did not cover the treatment cost.
9.0% said they were not aware if there was a treatment type.
Finding the Right Treatment for Mental Health and Addiction Issues
Get your loved one the help they need. Our substance use disorder program accepts many health insurance plans*.
Selecting the right integrated treatment provider is the first step toward a healthy recovery. Xanadu Healthcare is a premier treatment facility for co-occurring mental health and substance use issues. Our team of medical professionals is trained in the most current and scientifically-based treatment models. We address all aspects of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.
If you suffer from a co-occurring disorder, Xanadu Healthcare is the gold standard in treatment. Xanadu Healthcare offers comprehensive care designed to treat each of your symptoms, and ensures that your treatment is overseen by a skilled treatment team with proven track record and highest success rate in treating mental illnesses, addiction and co-occurring disorders.
Xanadu Healthcare is one of the best and most trusted mental health and addiction treatment centers in Delhi NCR. What sets us apart is how we take the time to gain a full understanding of how your condition affects you, so we can provide as personalized treatment as possible.
Please reach out to the team at Xanadu Healthcare at 8287712625 to learn more about how our mental health specialists effectively and compassionately treat mental health and co-occurring substance use disorders.