a therapist answers the question "what are co-occurring disorders?" for a patient

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

Many people struggling with substance use or mental health disorders ask, “What are co-occurring disorders?” Co-occurring disorders occur when both of these conditions manifest at the same time. There is no distinct pattern to which of the two conditions develops first. An individual can develop a mental disorder first, then a substance use disorder, or vice versa.

According to studies, co-occurring disorders affect people of all age groups worldwide. Individuals, especially those with a history of mental illness or substance use disorders, should understand these disorders to get the ideal treatment. In 2018, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health established that 9.2 million adult U.S. citizens struggle with dual diagnosis every year.

If you recognize the symptoms of co-occurring disorders in yourself or a loved one, a dual diagnosis treatment center can provide relief.

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders’ Symptoms?

The symptoms of dual diagnosis differ from one person to the next due to the variety of combinations of illnesses that can occur. As such, it is nearly impossible to differentiate the symptoms of one condition from another as they often predate each other. For an accurate diagnosis, the best rehab centers embrace the use of high-tech alcohol and drug screening equipment.

There are several common symptoms, such as:

  • Individuals withdrawing from family, friends, and hobbies
  • A sudden shift in behavior, making one start displaying unusual character traits
  • Consuming drugs and substances in dangerous conditions, such as poor health and starvation
  • The inability to control substance use
  • Strong feelings to take a particular drug or substance to function
  • Severe and long-lasting symptoms of mental illnesses

Diagnosing Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders affect how people relate to those around them. Typically, you will be diagnosed with the disease if it has impaired your normal functioning. Therapists often make the diagnosis in several situations.

For example, a person over 18 years old may have been displaying unusual behaviors that hamper their productivity within the past year. Some of their responses (such as emotional disconnect) indicate mental illnesses, whereas withdrawal symptoms are associated with substance use.

Individuals under 18 years may experience severe psychological disorders if their behavior drastically shifts. They may also have intense cravings for drugs or alcohol and withdrawal symptoms when they can’t use them. If these symptoms regularly affect their lives and productivity, they may suffer from dual diagnosis.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders 

Integrated intervention, which involves providing care for both mental disorders and substance use, has proven to be the most fruitful treatment option for dual diagnosis. In rehab, you will receive several treatment options, including:

  • Medically-assisted detox – The first step of the treatment is to stop using drugs and alcohol. This will help your body to flush out all the toxins. It’s crucial to manage withdrawals in a professional detox center due to the intense, sometimes dangerous nature of these symptoms. A medical team can provide a comfortable, safe environment where you can get sober.
  • Outpatient rehab program – You will live at home and visit the treatment center for therapy sessions and appointments. These programs are best for those with a strong support system at home, as well as a stable living situation. Enrolling in an outpatient treatment program provides you the opportunity to receive support and treatment on a flexible schedule.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – This treatment focuses on helping you to change your thoughts and behaviors. CBT is an effective treatment for those struggling with anxiety, depression, and addiction.
  • Group therapy – This type of therapy provides support and guidance in a group setting. Group therapy can help manage mental disorders and addiction. Working in a group can be especially helpful in addiction treatment, as it allows you to learn that others have faced similar struggles. 
  • Fitness therapy program – A fitness therapy program can help you to manage your mental health and addiction. This type of therapy focuses on helping you to improve your physical health. The goal of fitness therapy is to help you live a healthier lifestyle.

Once the therapist diagnoses you, they will work to find out how each condition affects the other. The information will help to make the treatment process effective. Treatment varies across individuals, but doctors often use some common strategies.

After detox, the therapy team will rely on custom-planned therapies to help you regain your health. The process involves teaching you how to cope with your thoughts to eliminate ineffective and irrational thinking. It’s the most effective method of treating co-occurring disorders.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment at The Right Step Hill Country

Now that you know the answer to the question “what are co-occurring disorders?” you can find the help you need. Even after you leave The Right Step Hill Country, you will stay in touch with our therapists to ensure long-term results. Contact us today at 1.844.675.1628 for more details about various types of dual diagnoses, their possible causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top