What Are Some Examples of Co-Occurring Disorders?


People with substance use disorders are likely to have co-occurring disorders. When substance use disorders and mental health conditions are comorbidities in your loved one’s diagnosis, they are known as co-occurring disorders.

Co-occurring disorders are quite common. According to SAMHSA’s 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, close to 9.2 million adults in the United States currently have a co-occurring disorder. But only 7 percent of these people get diagnosed because these comorbidities are often misunderstood.

It is important to know what is a co-occurring disorder, starting with understanding what substance use disorders are and seeing their connections with mental health conditions.

Understanding Use Disorders

Use disorders are mental illnesses defined by long-term usage of drugs or alcohol that then become a compulsive urge to continue using these brain-damaging illegal substances. 

Use disorders are divided into two conditions: substance use disorders and alcohol use disorders. This division of use disorders is based on the substance used and its effects on the user. 

Alcohol use disorder

Alcohol use disorder is a compulsive tendency to drink alcoholic beverages. People with alcohol use disorder often consume large amounts of alcohol regularly. Your loved one may drink alcohol for stress management or as an escape mechanism.

Some signs that your loved one may have an alcohol use disorder include slurred speech, the scent of alcohol on their breath or body, and yellowing of the skin and eyes. 

Substance use disorder

Substance use disorder is an umbrella term to describe compulsive consumption of non-alcoholic drugs ranging from crack cocaine to marijuana. Your loved one may consume drugs to numb physical or mental pain.

Signs that your loved one may have a substance use disorder are weight loss, paranoia, skin lesions, and lack of sleep. 

What is the Connection Between Addiction & Mental Illness?

Addiction and mental health disorders are connected through symptoms that are created or exacerbated by substance use. For example, marijuana is a risk factor for psychosis, and ADHD may be a risk factor for substance use disorders.

Mental illness is a risk factor that contributes to substance use disorder due to your loved one lacking support and treatment beforehand. Other common risk factors for substance use disorder are genetic family history and trauma. 

A study by Flynn & Brown found that assessing the mental health conditions of patients with substance use disorder showed that about 20% of these patients also had one or more mood disorders, and 18% had an anxiety disorder.

Examples of Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders are comorbidities with several common personality or neurodevelopmental disorders. There is no such thing as a unique co-occurring disorder caused by one drug; rather, these combinations are examples of disorders that are comorbid with addictions.

Some common examples of co-occurring disorders include: 

  • ADHD and substance use disorder
  • PTSD and alcohol use disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder and substance use disorder

How Can I Find Out if I Have a Dual Diagnosis?

Without expert guidance, it can be hard to tell if a family member is dealing with two conditions at once. A qualified professional can provide the necessary insight needed to make sure that everyone affected receives appropriate care. Through intervention and rehabilitation services, a therapist can make an accurate assessment to ensure the best possible care plan.

It’s difficult to obtain a dual diagnosis due to outdated information about drug addictions and mental health conditions. To ensure your loved one’s journey to health is successful, pair them with a therapist who has the right tools and knowledge of their personal history.

What Would Treatment Be Like for a Dual Diagnosis?

Treatment for dual diagnosis involves extensive rehabilitation and therapy to help create change in your loved one’s quality of life. Many rehabilitation centers have adopted community-centered treatment facilities that provide comprehensive wellness programs. 

Agape Detox Center is a rehabilitation center that has adopted a wellness model that can make rehabilitation feel like a vacation. Your loved one’s dual diagnosis will lead them to a total change in their quality of life, where their recovery journey feels like a home away from home. 

They will also provide your loved one with a behavioral therapist specializing in cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavioral therapy. CBT and DBT are both popular methods of treatment for co-occurring disorders. 

Finding the Right Treatment 

It can be hard to know what the best care is for someone you love. That’s why at Agape Detox Center, we will always aim to provide a comprehensive and compassionate solution. Personalized wellness plans and dual diagnosis therapy allow your loved one to receive the healing they need.

Are you ready to help your loved one on their path to lasting wellness? Get in touch with our Agape admissions team today. The right treatment program and support will give you or your loved one a truly enhanced quality of life.

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