What is a co-occurring disorder? As you may have guessed, a co-occurring disorder refers to the presence of two disorders that are occurring simultaneously. Also known as a dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorders are especially common in cases of mental illness and addiction. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly half of people with serious mental health disorders reported drug or alcohol abuse.1 Mental illness can contribute to drug use, and drug use can exacerbate mental health symptoms, which is why it’s important for both conditions to be treated properly. Today, our Chicago rehab center is sharing the most common co-occurring disorders and how we treat them.
Common Co-Occurring Disorders Examples
Individuals with substance use disorders are at a higher risk of developing one or more primary conditions or chronic diseases, such as mental illness. Below are some common examples of co-occurring disorders and how they impact one another.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Substance Abuse
Generalized anxiety disorder is a mental health disorder marked by severe and ongoing anxiety that interferes with daily activities such as going to work or school. A person may be diagnosed with GAD if they exhibit symptoms like constant worrying, lightheadedness, urinating often, and nausea. Anxiety itself is an excessive fear or feeling of doom, which could be debilitating if it is constantly being experienced.
To cope with their symptoms, some people with a generalized anxiety disorder may turn to drugs or alcohol to help them relax and enhance their social skills. Others might begin to abuse medications they were initially prescribed to treat their symptoms, such as Xanax.
Long-term drug abuse, when presented along with anxiety, could lead to a co-occurring disorder. If this is you or someone you are close to, our Chicago facility offers anxiety and addiction treatment that can help.
Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse
Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa often occur in people with substance use disorders. Eating disorders are psychological conditions that cause disordered or unhealthy eating habits. These habits can become severe enough to cause the individual to gain or lose excessive amounts of weight.
To lose weight or prevent weight loss (which are common behaviors among people with eating disorders,) these individuals will abuse stimulants, diet pills, and even alcohol to suppress their appetites and increase confidence. In addition to a lack of proper nutrition stemming from the person’s disordered eating, the added component of drugs and alcohol can increase the risks of serious health problems and even death.
On their own, eating disorders can be extremely dangerous and fatal. If you or someone you care about is struggling with an eating disorder, Banyan has a location that offers eating disorder support that can help.
Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse
Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder marked by manic highs and depressive lows. People with this disorder fluctuate between manic and depressive episodes, which can have a major impact on their mood and behavior.
Many know that bipolar disorder is a challenging disorder to cope with, which is why many people with this condition turn to drugs and alcohol. Like others with mental health struggles, bipolar disorder sufferers might rely on substance abuse to alleviate the stress of their symptoms.
In the end, however, not only can drugs further interfere with the chemical balance in the brain, exacerbating symptoms, but they can also present an additional disorder to worry about. Banyan offers bipolar disorder and addiction treatment for those who need help getting sober and learning how to properly cope with their mental illness.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Substance Abuse
One of the most common co-occurring disorders with substance abuse also includes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This disorder occurs in people who do not heal from being involved in or exposed to a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, a near-death experience, and abuse.
PTSD is especially common among veterans and active-duty military members because of the combat they are exposed to in their line of work. Many individuals with PTSD turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with symptoms of PTSD, such as flashbacks of the event, nightmares, paranoia, and anxiety.
Unfortunately, the use of drugs and alcohol can further deteriorate their mental health, making their symptoms worse and presenting an additional problem of addiction. Banyan Chicago offers a Military and Veterans in Recovery program that provides specialized addiction and mental health care to active-duty servicemembers and veterans.
Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse
Schizophrenia and substance abuse is another common dual diagnosis. Schizophrenia is a rare and severe mental health disorder that causes people to experience hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. People with this disorder struggle to understand or perceive reality correctly.
Due to these challenging symptoms, it is common for people with schizophrenia to use drugs or alcohol to cope. However, engaging in substance abuse with an underlying mental illness – such as schizophrenia – can increase the risk of symptoms like hallucinations and psychosis.
Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment
As we have mentioned, our Chicago IOP rehab offers various forms of dual diagnosis treatment to aid clients with both addiction and mental illness in their recovery. With the use of psychotherapy, family therapy, and other evidence-based services, our facility can help you or a loved one regain control of their lives.
- SAMHSA - Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health