Struggling with addiction and mental illness? It’s important that you find a dual diagnosis treatment center that can address both issues. Co-occurring disorders are complex and need specialized care.

What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder? 

man participates in therapy at a dual diagnosis treatment centerIf you have a co-occurring disorder it means you have both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. Around 7.9 million Americans suffer from co-occurring disorders. A co-occurring disorder is often referred to as a dual diagnosis.

Examples of common co-occurring or dual diagnosis disorders include:

Alcoholism and Anxiety

Anxiety is a heightened sense of fear, nervousness or worry. People with anxiety worry about things that don’t bother other people. And their worry is often so extreme that it interferes with daily life.

Some people try to ease their anxiety by drinking. People with any kind of anxiety disorder are two to three times more likely to have an alcohol problem. In the short term, alcohol may make them feel more relaxed. But alcohol can have a rebound effect that makes anxiety worse—not to mention result in other mental health disorders. Other people may develop anxiety as a result of alcoholism.

Heroin Addiction and Depression

People who abuse heroin and other opioids often struggle with depression. For some, depression drives addiction. For others, depression is a side effect of a chemical imbalance that results from heroin use. Studies have shown that prescription opioid abuse can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts by up to 60%. Also, opioid addicts attempt suicide twice as often as non-addicts.

Painkiller Addiction and Anxiety and/or Depression

When abused, opioid painkillers (like heroin) affect the brain’s reward system. They deplete chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Anxiety disorder and major depression often co-occur with painkiller addiction. One study estimates that of 38.6 million people with mental health disorders, 7.2 million use prescription opioids.

Cocaine Addiction and Psychiatric Issues

Cocaine abuse is associated with various psychiatric conditions. These include bipolar disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, major depression, PTSD and alcohol dependence. The link between cocaine use and these disorders is unknown. It is thought that cocaine use may affect the brain in a way that causes the onset of these mental disorders. However, the risk-taking behavior of individuals with some of these disorders may lead to the use of illicit drugs.

Signs of Co-Occurring Disorders

Dual diagnosis symptoms vary depending on the addiction and mental illness involved. Warning signs that you need help from a dual diagnosis treatment center include:

  • Needing alcohol or drugs to feel normal
  • Difficulty keeping a job, maintaining relationships and making or meeting social obligations
  • Isolation
  • Erratic behavior
  • Irritability, agitation or anger, especially when you stop using substances
  • Depression or anxiety when you stop using substances
  • Extreme emotional highs and lows
  • Financial and/or legal problems, especially if tied to substance abuse
  • Poor self-care (e.g. neglecting physical health, nutritional needs or hygiene)

Why Self-Medicating with Alcohol and Drugs Doesn’t Work

About half of people with a mental health issue will experience a substance use disorder. People may start abusing drugs to cope with their mental health symptoms. For example, an individual with anxiety may drink to calm their nerves or a person with a mood disorder may abuse cocaine to feel more energetic.

Drug abuse is a temporary fix for long-term problems. Dependence on drugs and alcohol can develop quickly. The initial relief you feel eventually backfires. This is because drugs and alcohol change the way the brain regulates feelings. You start needing more to get the same effect. With regular use, the brain relies on drugs just to feel normal. Substance abuse can worsen mental health symptoms. It can also jeopardize relationships, finances and other areas of life.

How Are Co-Occurring Disorders Treated?

With dual diagnosis disorders, each illness influences the other. It’s often impossible to separate the two and determine the origin of the symptoms. This is one reason why treating one disorder alone is rarely effective. Another is that untreated mental illnesses can cause addiction relapse, and vice versa.

The gold standard is a mode of treatment called integrative treatment. Treatment for dual disorders is part of a comprehensive plan that addresses all issues at once.

Integrative treatment addresses the root causes and symptoms of mental illness. It also addresses how a person’s life and choices contribute to their addiction. Treatment options include various types of therapy, as well as medication and lifestyle changes.

Treatment often includes:

  • Medical detox. Some addicts have uncomfortable symptoms when they withdraw from alcohol or drugs. For some people, withdrawal may even be dangerous. Medically-supervised drug and alcohol detox ensures they can detox safely.
  • Assessment. A full psychological assessment ensures that the client is correctly diagnosed.
  • Treatment. A custom treatment plan is best for co-occurring disorders. This addresses addiction and mental health issues and symptom management. An integrated plan also addresses personal issues that may impact recovery.
  • Aftercare. An aftercare program ensures that recovery continues long term.

Residential Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

In inpatient or residential treatment centers, clients live at a rehab or recovery center. They spend most of their time on recovery activities such as therapy and support groups.

These programs are ideal for people with co-occurring disorders. They offer a respite from worries, distractions and temptations.

Outpatient Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Many people with co-occurring disorders need high-level care. But outpatient treatment programs may be appropriate for people who don’t need highly structured care. These programs are also suitable for people who have finished a residential program and want to stay on a treatment plan. One type of outpatient program is a partial hospitalization program (PHP). The schedule of a PHP involves spending five or more days a week at a rehab center. These programs are similar to residential options, but clients live at home or at a sober-living home.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center at The Ranch

The Ranch offers integrative dual diagnosis treatment. Clients take part in treatment for physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. We work with a number of insurance providers to help you get the best treatment for your addiction and mental health disorder.

A Beautiful Natural Environment

The Ranch treatment centers have the cozy feel of a home. Clients stay in cottages or bungalow homes, with semi-private bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms. We also offer the option to upgrade to a private bedroom. With comfortably-furnished treatment and social areas and beautiful grounds, The Ranch is a peaceful place of healing.

Tailor-Made Integrative Treatment

Treatment at The Ranch starts with a full psychological assessment. We’ll talk with you to find out what issues you’re facing and make a diagnosis. Then, we’ll create a treatment plan that addresses all the challenges you’re facing.

Your treatment plan at the recovery center will include private and group therapy, along with support activities. Depending on your needs, your plan might include:

Aftercare Planning

Aftercare is a vital part of long-term treatment. At our dual diagnosis treatment center, you’ll learn healthy coping skills and other techniques that will help you in day-to-day life. As part of your program, you’ll also work on creating a rehab aftercare plan that might include:

Get Specialized Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

Make a change for the better. Get integrative treatment for co-occurring disorders from our mental health experts.

Call us to speak confidentially with a recovery advisor at our dual diagnosis treatment center. Call 1.844.876.7680 today.