a man concerned and asking himself do I have co-occurring disorders

There are several common misconceptions when it comes to treating people with substance use disorders. It was thought for a long time, for instance, that addiction was simply a matter of will power and determination rather than the disease that we now know it to be. It is still commonly thought, however, that there is a one-size-fits-all “cure” for addiction. The reality is that there are as many treatments and approaches and profiles for addictions as there are people struggling with addiction issues.

One of the avenues of approach that we have been exploring recently at Palmetto Center involves the idea that the vast majority of individuals with substance abuse problems are also suffering from one or more underlying mental conditions. We refer to this condition, in which a mental health issue underpins and fuels an addiction, as a “co-occurring disorder.”

What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

When a person has an undiagnosed mental condition, it very often the case that they turn to drugs and alcohol to alleviate their pain, or just as a way of coping with their situation. The nature of a co-occurring disorder means that it requires a slightly different kind of treatment. The treatment would be more intensive and comprehensive than addiction treatment by itself would typically be. This is, in part, because a mental condition and addiction can fuel and trigger each other. The crucial thing, however, is that the person suffering is appropriately diagnosed and treated.

The majority of people who suffer from co-occurring disorders suffer from the same relatively small set of mental conditions. This set includes anxiety disorders, PTSD, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Individuals suffering from these conditions can be up to twice as likely to revert to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. This occurrence is especially common when their mental condition has been misdiagnosed. It can also occur when they are not receiving the proper care.

Co-Occurring Disorders: Signs and Symptoms

There are several signs that you or someone you care about might be suffering from a co-occurring disorder. These include but are not limited to:

The sufferer exhibits sudden or extreme changes in mood or mental state. This kind of behavior can be especially pronounced when they try to cut back on the drugs or alcohol with which they are self-medicating. It is common that when someone with a co-occurring disorder tries to stop using or to reduce their usage, their mental condition worsens considerably.

They have a history of mental illness in their family. There is a complicated relationship between family history, genetics, mental illness, and addiction issues. However, it is widely accepted that the children of mentally ill parents are significantly more vulnerable to the psychiatric conditions that are most common in co-occurring disorders, like depression, anxiety, trauma, and PTSD.

They have to rely on substances to feel “normal”. There is a significant difference between using drugs as an “escape” or as a recreational activity and using drugs as a way to feel more like themselves. The latter may indicate that there is an underlying mental issue that is not being addressed.

These are, of course, just general signs and symptoms. Every combination of mental condition and drug or alcohol abuse problem requires a unique approach.

Reach Out for Help Today

If you fear that you or someone you know is suffering from a co-occurring disorder, it is vital to get help. Fortunately, the help you need is just around the corner. At Palmetto Center, we have years of experience handling co-occurring disorders. We understand the importance of tailoring the treatment to the patient. Contact us online today, or call us at 318.728.2970. You can take your life back today.