The Most Common Co-Occurring Disorders

dual diagnosis treatment in Prescott

A co-occurring disorder refers to having both a substance use disorder and mental health disorder simultaneously. Nearly half of individuals who experience a mental health disorder will also experience a substance use disorder at some point in their lives. These disorders respond best to dual diagnosis treatment in Prescott

While it’s possible for any type of mental illness to co-occur with a substance use disorder, some are more common than others. Only a medical professional can make an accurate diagnosis, but you can pay attention to certain signs and symptoms so that you can seek help for yourself or a loved one. 

Let’s learn more about why mental health disorders and substance use disorders often co-occur together and which conditions are most commonly linked. 

Why Does Substance Use and Mental Health Co-Occur? 

There is a strong relationship between mental health and substance use, though this does not mean that one causes the other. In fact, medical professionals often have a hard time determining which disorder came first, as substance use can worsen mental health symptoms and vice versa. Fortunately, integrated treatment addresses both disorders at once so that they can heal together.

The main possibilities for why mental health disorders and substance use disorders often coexist are: 

  • Both mental health disorders and substance use develop from the same shared genetic and environmental risk factors.
  • Mental health symptoms can trigger a person to use substances to cope with their distress. 
  • Engaging in substance use can trigger the onset of mental illness by altering brain functioning. 

As you can see, mental health and substance use are closely linked. While you can’t always prevent these disorders, you can lower your risk by not engaging in substance use and taking good care of yourself. This includes eating well, exercising daily and getting restful sleep. If you do notice signs of mental illness, it’s important to seek intervention. With prompt treatment, you can manage your symptoms and prevent further complications. 

Anxiety-related Disorders and Alcohol Use 

Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder, tend to co-occur with alcohol use. Alcohol is readily available and socially acceptable, making it an easy substance to reach for. Because alcohol is a depressant that lowers inhibitions and produces a sense of euphoria, it can be especially attractive for people with anxiety. 

Drinking alcohol can take the edge off and provide a temporary escape from anxious thoughts and feelings, especially in social situations. However, over time, alcohol use can actually trigger anxiety and make symptoms worse. The negative consequences of alcohol use—damaged relationships, financial setbacks, legal troubles—can also worsen anxiety. 

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Alcohol Use 

Another disorder that commonly occurs with alcohol use is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can have debilitating symptoms, such as flashbacks, nightmares and severe emotional distress. As a result, people with PTSD may reach for alcohol to numb their thoughts and feelings. While alcohol can provide a temporary escape, it actually worsens PTSD by interfering with the ability to cope with the traumatic event, causing disruptions in sleep and cognition and raising the risk for other life-threatening events to happen, such as car accidents or assault. 

Mood Disorders and Substance Use 

Mood disorders, such as major depression or bipolar disorder, primarily affect your emotional state. Some of the hallmark symptoms include disruptions in behavior, mood, energy and sleep. If you use substances on top of this, your symptoms are likely to be much worse, including unsteady mood episodes, poorer cognitive functioning and a higher risk of suicide. Unfortunately, substance use is not uncommon in individuals who have mood disorders, as they look for ways to ease their symptoms. 

ADHD and Substance Use 

Studies show that children with ADHD may be more likely than the general population to develop substance use disorders down the line. Among adults being treated for alcohol use and substance use, about 25 percent have ADHD. One reason for this relationship has to do with impulsivity. Those with ADHD are more likely to be impulsive and have behavior problems, which can contribute to the onset of substance use. Furthermore, the medications used to treat ADHD can also be misused, creating a cycle of dependence on prescription medications. 

Best Ways to Treat Co-Occurring Disorders 

The ideal way to treat co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders is with integrated treatment. This type of treatment uses a combination of medication and behavioral therapies to address both disorders, heal deeper struggles, teach new coping skills and manage symptoms. Wolf Creek Recovery offers dual diagnosis treatment in Prescott. Below is the process of treating co-occurring disorders

  • Diagnosis. First, you must be given a proper diagnosis. Most treatment centers provide each client with a comprehensive intake assessment to examine their condition, make an accurate diagnosis and determine which factors are contributing to their symptoms.
  • Detox. Detox is the first step in the recovery process. You must go through detox, otherwise, the withdrawal symptoms will make it difficult to focus on healing. Medical detox is safer and easier, offers 24-7 monitoring and provides medications and therapy to help you through the process.
  • Therapy. Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), contingency management and motivational interviewing, along with group therapy, are helpful in treating co-occurring disorders. These therapies help clients identify harmful thoughts and behaviors, learn new ways to cope and motivate them to remain sober.
  • Medications. There are also a number of medications that can be used to treat the symptoms of mental illness, as well as cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with opioids and alcohol. Some medications you may need to be on long-term, while others you can eventually wean off. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Prescott, Arizona 

If you are ready to start your journey to recovery, contact Wolf Creek Recovery today. We have convenient outpatient programs that make it easy to get the support you need while rebuilding your life. With our beautiful and serene location in Prescott, AZ, you will also have access to a wide range of alternative therapies, including outdoor therapy. We make recovery enjoyable!