Treatment of Co-occurring Disorders: What You Need to Know

Recent data on co-occurring disorders shows that the United States has millions of people who experience mental fitness disorders. Unfortunately, substance abuse disorders have a direct correlation to mental health disorders. People with dual diagnoses of mental health disorders and drug addiction are now called co-occurring disorders. Over 7.9 million individuals in America suffer from a co-occurring disorder. This piece will look at why some people experience co-occurring disorders, in what form they manifest themselves, and where they can go for therapy.

Meaning of Co-Occurring Disorder?

An individual with a mental health problem who does not receive adequate treatment is likely to turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve their symptoms. Co-occurring disorders are referred to scientifically as co-occurring disorders since one usually has both of them at the same time. Co-occurring disorders require more intensive treatment than someone with only one of them. Symptoms of drug misuse and psychiatric illness tend to exacerbate one another. Substance abuse can also impair physical health, which has consequences for this subset of patients that make treatment more difficult.

One or More of the Following Three Reasons May Contribute to the Co-Occurrence of Three Mental Illnesses.

  • Extending Risk Portions: There is some evidence that a person’s heredity and environmental circumstances, such as being subjected to trauma, are possible factors in the development of substance use disorders and other mental health disorders.
  • Self-Medication: The symptoms of mental illness can often be managed by substance abuse for self-medication. There are several reasons why self-medication is occurring, however, this may also be considered misleading since self-medication can mask symptoms as well as have the effect of worsening them over time.
  • Drug-Induced Cerebrum Alterations: It has been shown that substance abusers are more likely to develop mental health disorders that disrupt the brain when their regular use of substances. There are regions of the brain correlated with substance abuse as well as areas corresponding with behavioral impulse control, mood disorders, and anxiety troubles, and schizophrenia.

How Likely are you to Develop a Co-Occurring Condition?

Over half of 7.9 million individuals having co-occurring disorders are male. Additionally, a high rate of suicide attempts is associated with co-occurring disorders. Studies claim anxiety sufferers are almost double as likely to abuse substances as the general population. People with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and untreated anxiety disorders are most at risk of abuse. Almost half of all people with a co-occurring disorder get no medication at all although the fact is that treatment is critical for recovery. Co-occurring disorders account for 7.9% of all mental illnesses, yet only 7.9% of those with a co-occurring disorder ever complete treatment for both illnesses.

Co-Occurring Disorders: Symptoms

Many mental illnesses and addictions can have many of the same symptoms, so it is sometimes difficult to differentiate one from the other. To prevent confusion, it is best to make a mental health analysis when a person has not used drugs and is not taking prescription medications.

Though Different Symptoms are Ranging from Different Mental Health Disorders, We have Common Signs that a Person Might be Suffering from Mental Illness, Including:

  • An alteration in the sleeping and eating patterns of an individual.
  • It can be hard to give up hobbies that have once been important.
  • An extreme emotional high or low.
  • Fear occurs frequently for no apparent reason.
  • Thinking clearly or focusing is difficult.
  • An individual’s inability to recognize behavioral or personality changes in the process.
  • Heightened irritability.
  • Higher or lower libido.
  • Extending distance from family and friends.
  • Personal hygiene is neglected.
  • Debilitating mental disorders such as delusions, hallucinations, or paranoia.
  • Risky habits like substance abuse and promiscuity.
  • Feeling physically ill without cause.
  • Thinking about suicide or attempting suicide.


Until recently, it was believed that the treatment of drug or alcohol misuse could be separated from the treatment of mental disorders, and care provided at different facilities via significantly other healing strategies. 

Many individuals suffering from substance abuse never receive treatment for despairschizophreniaobsessive-compulsive disorder, or other severe psychiatric maladies. Additionally, graduates from drug rehab programs with co-occurring disorders often receive inadequate treatment for their undetected mental health conditions.

In recent years, the field of cognitive-behavioral therapy has observed an increase in the treatment of co-occurring disorders in patients. It is estimated that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services predicts up to 5% of Americans suffer from severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorder and that anywhere from 1 to 5% of the United States population struggles with mental illness.

About 7 million individuals who fall within that group also suffer from substance abuse, thus requiring integrative treatment to protect the group from poverty, illness, isolation, imprisonment, and homelessness, which can adversely affect a Dual Diagnosis individual.

Integrated Care and Its Importance

In Recent Years, Researchers have Found that Integrated Therapy is the Best Method for Treating People with Co-Occurring Disorders.

Research gathered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates that combining psychiatric and addiction treatment techniques can decrease relapses and reduce suicide attempts in rehab graduates, as well as promote long-term abstinence.

Several Factors Make it Crucial to Treat Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders and Addictive Disorders Together:

  • An Integrated Recovery Plan aims to reduce the negative side effects of mental health disorders, including problems paying attention, feeling depressed, and disinclination to socialize with others.
  • You are more likely to be able to treat your substance abuse disorder and mental health dysfunction at the same time when pharmacological therapy addresses both disorders.
  • Traditional concerns about psychotherapeutic medication use in co-occurring disorders are no longer a problem.
  • Co-occurring disorders patients who undergo group therapy help them strengthen their support network. This training is also useful for combating problems such as substance misuse.
  • Treating both addiction and mental disorders simultaneously reduces one’s chances of relapse, such as depression, mood swings, or panic strikes.

In facilities that emphasize treatment for co-occurring disorders, staff members have specialized training and qualifications in Dual Diagnosis treatment. These addiction specialists understand that clients with co-occurring disorders face particular difficulties because of their mental illness.

Treatment Approaches

There has been a steady growth in the treatment of co-occurring disorders since the 1990s, and rates are expected to continue to rise as we move into the next decade.

One of the pioneers of co-occurring disorders, Dr. Kenneth Minkoff, has written an article in Psychiatric Services containing standards of best practices, including the following:

  • Rather than excluding co-occurring individuals because of their mental illness, welcoming them into treatment
  • Providing equal attention and care during the rehabilitation process to the addictive and co-occurring psychiatric disorders.
  • Both psychiatric and substance addiction disorders may seem to be temporary conditions, but they require long-term assistance
  • A treatment team with expertise in treating co-occurring disorders must be working to ensure that treatment is delivered.
  • Provide treatment to clients who are suffering from psychiatric disorders early on, which will allow them to be treated more quickly.
  • Whether the client is experiencing a mental health crisis or is acutely intoxicated, all clients should be treated with dignity and respect.

A co-occurring treatment program should address the needs of the mentally ill, including the treatment for substance abuse along with the addiction treatment. Therapy sessions and group therapy meetings should address the needs of those who are mentally ill. 

When programs are tailored to meet the needs of co-occurring disorder clients, symptoms such as social anxiety, hopelessness, and compulsive behavior need not be an obstacle to care.

Stress Relief: Therapeutic Options

You must have a full range of options to choose from when entering a drug or alcohol abuse rehab program that treats co-occurring disorders. 

An effective addiction treatment plan with a strong support system and a comprehensive approach to treatment is important if you want to recover from a mental health disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder along with your addiction.

Plan Your Recovery by Considering these Treatment Strategies:

  • Residential Therapy Options: Residential rehab plans give structured, supervised support during rehab. People in residential programs may find it easier to concentrate on their recovery since they’re removed from daily challenges and triggers.
  • Outpatient Healing Programs: For younger teenagers, parents, or those with work commitments who do not require round-the-clock supervision, an outpatient rehabilitation program may be the best way to receive proper treatment without disrupting their vital life routines.
  • Individual Therapy: The biggest part of personal treatment for co-occurring disorders is learning new and positive ways of thinking and behaving. Nowadays, the best treatment centers are moving away from the confrontational therapy of yesteryear and moving towards a collaborative approach that aims to reinforce the client’s sense of self-esteem and prevent future relapses.
  • Medication Treatment: As part of a co-occurring disorders treatment program, psychotherapeutic medications of all kinds are commonly prescribed, including antidepressants and antipsychotic medications. In addition to medicines for stopping addiction and withdrawal symptoms, medications can be prescribed to lessen cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.
  • Peer Support Clubs: People living with psychiatric illnesses often withdraw from social surroundings; for those who utilize drugs and alcohol, withdrawal may be exacerbated. You will know that you are not alone in the fight for a healthy, stable life by participating in peer support groups and 12-step programs in your community such as Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA). Many rehab programs include 12-step plans and group counseling.
  • Educational and Counseling Services for Families: Deal with a loved one who has an alcohol or drug problem can be frustrating and heartbreaking. Education and support are the keys to a patient’s success in surviving co-occurring disorders, whether you’re the patient or someone close to them.
  • Holistic Remedies: Psychiatry is increasingly recognizing the importance of alternative treatments in alcohol rehabilitation and drug addiction treatment. Many rehabilitation centers now offer equine-assisted therapy, hypnotherapy, massage, acupuncture, yoga, as well as treatments for co-occurring disorders.
  • Support in the Post-Rehab Period: When your rehabilitation program has been completed, your healing journey has just begun. You must choose a facility that provides integrated care as well as a program that provides comprehensive aftercare services. After you leave treatment, you should be able to continue seeking improvement resources including counseling, support groups, and other recovery resources. For those who find themselves in transitional accommodation, many facilities provide an environment that is semi-structured and secure to minimize the risk of relapse. 

The presence of a disorder such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or depression should no longer be regarded as an argument against a client receiving substance misuse therapy. Although psychiatric treatment is a vital component of addressing substance use disorders, that doesn’t mean that substance abusers cannot get treatment under this model. Many recovery centers for substance abuse do not have the resources or the personnel to treat clients suffering from psychiatric dysfunctions.

We can offer specialized care if you’re experiencing co-occurring disorders. We use the most recent co-occurring disorder healing strategies at our facility for Dual Diagnosis therapy to provide patients with the very best chance of succeeding in the program. Reach out to our addiction experts today to discover how you can start your co-occurring disorder recovery process.