How to Treat Co-Occurring Disorders & Addiction

a man suffering from co-occurring disorders

Mental health challenges can make an addiction problem worse. In some cases, they can cause one. In others, a drug can bring an underlying disorder to the forefront. What do you need to know about treating co-occurring disorders?

Understanding the Breadth of the Co-Occurring Disorders Spectrum

When dealing with addiction and mental health issues at the same time, therapists call it a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. The American Journal of Psychiatry identifies four psychological health challenges that frequently co-occur with addiction. They are schizophrenia, depression, PTSD, and ADHD. That said, other psychiatric disorders factor into the need for treatment, too.

For example, the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment refers to antisocial personality disorder as a primary concern. The problem arises when there’s no official diagnosis. In many cases, therapists will diagnose mental health problems at the addiction rehab center. At that point, the program participant needs treatment for both conditions.

Don’t Get Treatment for One Disorder Only

Mental health problems don’t go away by themselves. The same is true for addiction. Chemical dependency is a disease of the brain. It’s chronic, which means that there’s no cure.

However, it responds well to treatment. Because of its chronic nature, there’s a chance of relapse. Since co-occurring disorders tend to feed off each other, it’s impossible to treat them one after the other. The best way of dealing with the conditions is to manage them simultaneously.

What Treatment Looks Like

Therapists determine at intake what types of modalities would be useful for you. Examples include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy that recognizes dysfunctional patterns and offers tools for changing them
  • Dialectical behavior therapy as a means for gaining control over strong emotions in stressful settings
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, which helps with overcoming trauma such as PTSD
  • Group therapy sessions that emphasize the application of coping skills in peer interactions
  • One-on-one talk therapy that benefits all program participants regardless of co-occurring disorders

In some situations, another condition affects both addiction and a mental health disorder. A good example is chronic pain. You might have dealt with it by using opioids. They led to addiction. Now, you’re still dealing with the pain.

Overcoming it is possible by undergoing rehab at a facility that offers a chronic pain recovery program. This setup emphasizes alternative means of treating discomfort. Participating in the treatment protects you from relapsing. It can also reduce depression or anxiety.

Therefore, pain recovery directly affects both conditions. While it’s difficult to grasp the extent to which the diseases intertwine, there’s no doubt that they do. However, just as everyone’s addiction is different, everyone’s mental health condition varies, too. Treatment customization is, therefore, a necessity.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Work with therapists who customize their treatment modalities to your needs. Moreover, they should be able to make changes to a treatment protocol at any time. As you progress in recovery, your needs change. Also, as you get your mental health condition under control, your needs change again.

This form of customization starts with the treatment delivery options. Most people with co-occurring disorders check into residential rehab. But some may do better in a different setting. For them, an outpatient setup can be advantageous.

Aftercare is a Vital Component for People with Mental Health Conditions

Individualized treatment protocols also continue after discharge, including aftercare. It provides the halfway point between residential rehab and independent living. You test your ability to do well.

Even though you practiced living sober at the rehab center, it was easier. There was a lot more supervision. In this setting, you have peer support and accountability partners. But you also have the freedom to amp up your sober lifestyle.

If you notice areas where you need added help, a therapist is a quick call away. If you’re struggling with a dual diagnosis, you need more help. For example, you need to get in the habit of seeking treatment for the mental health disorder. You also need to take medications consistently.

Of course, before you can get to aftercare, you need to check into rehab. Don’t let the fear of co-occurring disorders keep you away. Without treatment, your condition won’t get better. Reach out for assistance today by calling 855-568-0218 and connecting with the addiction experts at Kemah Palms Recovery®.