What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders

In the addiction treatment realm, you’ll often hear the term “co-occurring” or “co-occurring disorder” tossed around. But what does it mean? When you look closer at the term, it’s not terribly difficult to understand. Your medical professional is simply referring to a condition in which an individual suffers from both substance abuse disorder and a mental health issue simultaneously or co-occurring. You may also hear this combination referred to as “dual diagnosis” or “dual disorder.”

While the concept is easy to understand, diagnosing a co-occurring disorder isn’t always an easy task for healthcare professionals. That’s because mental health conditions, such as mood or depressive disorders, are often associated with an individual’s drug or alcohol abuse. For example, many substance dependency problems are the result of self-medicating an underlying mental health condition.

On the other side of this, depressive and mood disorders can develop as a result of substance abuse. The use of drugs or alcohol can alter the brain and impair one’s ability to develop healthy coping skills, maintain relationships, or even feel a sense of normalcy if not under the influence or intoxicated.

Because the root cause — substance or mental health — may not be immediately clear, a facility that is not equipped or prepared to treat co-occurring disorders may not be able to provide an effective recovery solution. If a treatment center only addresses an individual’s substance abuse disorder but doesn’t tackle the underlying mental health issue, it’s much more likely that this person may relapse or fall back in to old habits following treatment.

So how do treatment centers approach recovery for co-occurring disorders?

Because individuals with co-occurring disorders may struggle when one disorder is addressed but not the other, the most effective way to treat these issues is by treating them together. This form of treatment, sometimes known as integrated treatment, is a method of addressing both mental health and substance abuse disorders simultaneously, by the same treatment center and care team. This allows doctors and staff to monitor both conditions to identify the most effective methods of treatment for each disorder and minimize any risks associated with the patient’s safety, mental health, and possible relapse.

If you’re considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, do your research and consider a treatment facility like Midwest Recovery Centers, who are ready and able to address co-occurring disorders effectively.

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