Often, someone who is suffering from substance abuse also suffers from a form of mental illness.
Many times people self-medicate not understanding that the drug they are using may be worsening their mental condition. When this occurs, it is known as a co-occurring disorder or, more commonly, dual diagnosis.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately one-third of those addicted to alcohol and about one-half of those addicted drugs report suffering from a form of mental illness.
Solstice Counseling and Wellness Center wants you to know that a dual diagnosis may be one of the best ways to address your substance abuse as we will be able to address both the mental condition that is causing you pain along with your substance abuse.
It is very possible that your substance abuse is a symptom of another disorder, rather than the main issue.
What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?
Co-Occurring Disorders (also known as dual disorder or dual diagnosis) is a term used to describe two or more disorders simultaneously affecting your mental health.
For example, if you are suffering from substance abuse, it is very possible you may also be suffering from a form of mental illness. You may have been self-medicating in an effort to deal with a mental imbalance you may not even have known you had. What you did not understand is that the substances you have been using may be worsening your mental condition.
Living with co-occurring disorders can make many aspects of your life difficult, including holding a job, maintaining relationships, going to school, or raising children.
Solstice understands this and wants to work with you to conquer both disorders and help you get back on the road to recovery so that you may live your life to the fullest.
Common Co-Occurring Disorders
There are several common mental health disorders that can lead to substance abuse. Most of these disorders are mood or anxiety disorders.
In addition, there are some severe mental illness disorders that are commonly connected to substance abuse.
Some of the most common mental disorders that accompany substance abuse include:
- Depression, both mild and major
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Schizoaffective disorder
The Importance of Dual Diagnosis Treatment
It is often difficult to diagnose co-occurring disorders because symptoms of substance abuse often mask symptoms of mental illness while symptoms of mental illness often mask symptoms of substance abuse.
If you are suffering from both mental illness and substance abuse, you may be unaware that there are two issues. In the past, the two issues would have been treated separately, but research has shown that integrated treatment is critical in order to resolve both problems.
Treating just one disorder will not improve the other and it is often necessary to create parallel treatment plans in order to resolve both the mental disorder and the substance abuse.
Specialized Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders
Co-occurring disorders require special treatment. Both disorders must be treated and it is recommended that the treatment be done concurrently.
Some of the tools used to address dual diagnosis include:
- A thorough psychiatric assessment
- Consistent monitoring of medications
- Mood, anxiety, trauma and stress disorder education for both the patient and their loved ones
- Symptom management training
- Coping skills training
- Individual and/or group therapy
- Holistic approaches to reducing or eliminating symptoms
If you receive a dual diagnosis at Solstice, you will be work closely with the counselors to develop a plan for achieving those goals. You may have multiple needs as having both a mental disorder and substance abuse can be debilitating.
Many people who have been given a dual diagnosis have suffered from homelessness, loss of friends or family, criminal behavior or inability to get or keep a job.
If any of this has happened to you, treatment at Solstice will include services such as health and wellness counseling, family education, social skills training, vocational counseling, and discharge planning.
Seeking Help for Co-Occurring Disorders
The first step in managing a co-occurring disorder is seeking help for both issues. Not too long ago, a mental illness could have disqualified you from seeking substance abuse treatment as the two issues were thought to be separate.
Today, we know that mental illness and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand, which is why seeking help for co-occurring disorders is critical.
At Solstice, we understand and we care about getting you back on the road to recovery so that you can enjoy life again.