What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?
By: Lakeview Health Staff
Published: April 29, 2020

A common misconception surrounding addiction is that it is a standalone problem and occurs solely by choice of the individual. However, it’s quite often that addiction isn’t the only issue taking place. So what are co-occurring disorders, and how can addiction treatment programs help?

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

Co-occurring disorders are two or more issues that take place at the same time. When it comes to addiction, co-occurring disorders are often a substance use disorder and a type of mental health disorder. This tends to stem from two reasons. The first is that substance abuse tends to exacerbate the symptoms of a mental health disorder, creating a cycle. The second is that many individuals use substance abuse to self-medicate or manage their mental health symptoms while not knowing they have a mental health disorder. In either case, both issues must receive proper treatment in order to break the cycle and begin recovery.

Individuals who have co-occurring disorders could experience some of the following problems:

  • Increase in substance abuse to manage pain or other symptoms
  • Difficulty finding appropriate treatment
  • Worsening of either or both conditions

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

As you ask “what are co-occurring disorders,” you might also wonder which disorders tend to occur more frequently together than others. Understanding these connections can help you understand your own addiction or the addiction of a loved one. This understanding can make finding appropriate care easier.

Some of the more common co-occurring disorders include the following:

  • Alcohol and depression- Individuals struggling with depression often turn to alcohol to help alleviate their feelings of sadness and hopelessness. However, alcohol is a depressant and will ultimately make these depression symptoms worse. Individuals become trapped in a cycle of consuming alcohol to cope without realizing it’s, in fact, worsening their condition.
  • Substance abuse and stress- Numerous substances are often used by individuals under a tremendous amount of stress. Drugs like benzos and alcohol are common choices for those looking to reduce their stress.
  • Anxiety and benzodiazepines- While certain types of benzos are used to help anxiety, they are often misused by those struggling with anxiety. Some might take more of their prescription, while others will find ways to get these prescriptions without a doctor.
  • Chronic pain and opioids- While chronic pain isn’t a mental health disorder, it’s often behind many opioid addictions. Unfortunately, prescription opioids were used at an alarming rate to treat chronic pain before it was known how addictive and dangerous they are. Now, many individuals are struggling with opioid addiction, while others look for ways to get opioids to self-treat their pain.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Lakeview Health

What are co-occurring disorders, and how can you find help? Turn to the professionals of Lakeview Health. Our team is trained in treating co-occurring disorders through our dual diagnosis treatment program. We know how to help and support those struggling along with helping their family members as well. Our family therapy program allows loved ones to reconnect and reach a place of understanding after the strain and stress of addiction.

Our addiction programs include:

By providing a full continuum of care, we help our clients and their families succeed on the road to recovery. We also offer a variety of addiction therapy services to help our clients learn essential life and coping skills to manage their cravings, triggers, and overall mental health. These therapies can include:

To learn more about what are co-occurring disorders and how to manage your mental health, contact Lakeview Health today. Our team of specialists is here to help.

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