Are you aware that millions of people worldwide suffer from a clinical
condition known as co-occurring disorders? But what does the phrase actually mean?According
to Dr (Prof) R K Suri,Leading Clinical Psychologist & Life Coach, “Co-occurring disorders are those in which a
mental health illness and a substance use disorder coexist”. These
conditions strike the same person at the same time and have a very similar
effect on certain brain regions. Dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorder are
terms that are frequently used interchangeably.
Co-occurring disorders might involve just one addiction or psychiatric illness at a time, or they
can involve both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. For
instance, a lot of persons with depression also struggle with alcoholism and
opioid addiction. Depression and a drug usage issue are common struggles
for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When a psychiatric disorder and a substance use problem co-occur, the
severity of each disorder may vary and may even fluctuate over time. People who
have several disorders may face more severe physical and mental health issues
and may need longer periods of treatment than those who only have one disorder.
The symptoms of co-occurring disorders include those linked to the
specific substance use disorder and mental health issue that an individual is
experiencing. Co-occurring disorder sufferers are particularly vulnerable to
other issues such symptomatic relapses, hospitalizations, financial hardships,
social isolation, family issues, homelessness, sexual and physical abuse, incarceration,
and life-threatening illnesses.
Disorders of mental health and substance abuse are caused by a variety
of circumstances. Such illnesses are genetically more likely to develop in some
people, but environmental factors can also influence how they manifest.
The DSM-5 states that, for instance, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia,
and antisocial personality disorder are all linked to an elevated risk of
alcohol use disorder, and that alcohol use disorder may also be associate with certain
anxiety and depressive disorders like bipolar or major depressive disorder. Other substance-related diseases
and diverse psychiatric conditions frequently co-occur. It is possible that a
substance use disorder causes the emergence of other mental health issues or
exacerbates an already present disorder, such like with opioid use disorder and
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
suggests using an integrated treatment strategy to offer appropriate treatment
for co-occurring disorders. Instead of treating each condition alone without
taking the other into account, integrated treatment involves combining
therapies for substance abuse and mental health.
Behavioral therapies that can aid in enhancing coping mechanisms and
reducing maladaptive behaviors, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, are frequently
used as part of integrated treatment. These might be combined with prescription
drugs. Collaboration between medical professionals or the best psychiatrists and groups that provide assistance with housing,
health, and employment-related difficulties may also be part of the treatment
Psychoeducational seminars can aid in raising awareness of the signs of
disorders and the connection between mental illnesses and substance addiction
as part of programs that treat co-occurring disorders. Relapse prevention
education can assist clients in identifying cues that increase their propensity
for substance addiction and in developing alternate responses.
Dual-recovery groups, whether they are found on or off-site at treatment
facilities, can help in recovery by providing a safe space to talk about mental
health issues, prescription drugs, urges related to substances, and coping
In the past, treatment for mental diseases and substance use disorders
was distinct. For instance, a treatment facility might assist a patient in
quitting drinking before addressing the person's PTSD symptoms. From the start of the treatment
process, integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders addresses both
experiences and the ways they overlap (or immediately following detox or
stabilization). Both mental health doctors (Psychiatrist) and addiction
experts are educated to screen for, identify, and treat mental health issues.
Co-occurring illnesses have a terrible negative impact on the brain.
Co-occurring disorders increase the risk of drug overdose, hospitalization,
social isolation, aggression, victimization, and suicide when left untreated.
Co-occurring disorders are fortunately fairly curable. However, due to
their close relationship, all co-occurring disorders must be treated
concurrently by the same treatment team. This type of treatment is known as
integrated dual diagnosis. It is not advisable to treat co-occurring disorders
separately, in different settings, as doing so could result in one illness
going untreated and eventually leading to the other disorder relapsing.
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