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 depressive disorders.
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 process.
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 mechanisms.
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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Contributed by: - Dr (Prof) R K Suri, Best Clinical Psychologist in Delhi, NCR & Aditi Bhardwaj
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