What are co-occurring disorders? Co-occurring conditions happen when a person has two or more mental health disorders at the same time, also called a dual diagnosis. Having an addiction plus another mental health condition can complicate treatment, but when treated together, you can overcome them. So let’s take a look at some common co-occurring disorders and how they impact each other.
Eating Disorder and Substance Use Disorder
In this situation, substance abuse or an eating disorder may be primary.
If the eating disorder is primary, you may have underlying beliefs about your body that cause you to take the drastic measure of using drugs. But if drug use is primary, your eating disorder is probably caused because you neglect self-care. A dual diagnosis program treats these common co-occurring disorders together. And it should acknowledge the cause and effect relationship between primary and secondary.
Depression and Substance Use Disorder
Feelings of extreme anger and sadness can become a trigger for drug or alcohol use. On the other hand, the more you abuse drugs and/or alcohol to more depressed, you may feel, especially if the substance abuse leads to homelessness, destroyed relationships, or something worse.
On top of that, many substances hijack your brain’s happiness center, making it harder to feel happy or even okay.
See how common co-occurring disorders work together to keep you down?
Anxiety and Substance Use Disorder
Anxiety and substance abuse are also frequently seen together. Some drugs like marijuana and cocaine can increase anxious feelings. And you may turn to drugs or alcohol to calm down when feeling anxious.
So it’s a vicious cycle.
Trauma and Substance Use Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a trauma-related disorder. But you don’t have to have PTSD to be affected by trauma. It can occur from all kinds of things like childhood abuse, living through a terrible event, or extreme childhood food insecurity. When you experience trauma, it stays in your body until you process it and release it.
Until you do, you may experience PTSD-like symptoms, and you have found that drugs or alcohol relieve them for a short time. But you’re not healing the trauma if you do this. And it will continue to get worse.
Real trauma healing is possible through trauma-informed care.
Bipolar and Substance Use Disorder
The manic and depressive episodes involved in bipolar disorder can make substance use hard to manage. Individuals in distress will often look for means to cope or deal with their issues. Many people who have bipolar use alcohol or other drugs to self-medicate. While this may at first give them the impression that they can cope, abusing alcohol and abusing drugs are merely superficial fixes. At best, self-medicating with drugs or alcohol creates the illusion of control or superficially eases one’s issues. The reality is these substances mask what is going on, allowing the condition to worsen. The great danger is that repeatedly abusing substances can lead an individual to dependency, that is, addiction. When this happens, individuals must then find support in treating both their bipolar disorder and their substance use disorder.
How Integrative Life Center Treats Common Co-occurring Disorders
At the Integrative Life Center in Nashville, we assess the individual needs of those who come to us and treat a person with co-occurring conditions using a combination of prescription medication, evidence-based therapies, and integrative approaches like:
- Breathwork therapy
- Mindfulness therapy
- Sweat Lodge Therapy
- Equine therapy (working with horses)
- Music therapy, because this is Music City, after all
Do you know you have common co-occurring disorders? Or maybe you’ve relapsed before because of a mental health condition. Treating them together can make all the difference. Please contact us at 615.455.3903 to learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment programs.