Healing in Recovery: Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders and Trauma

Addiction doesn’t occur in a vacuum. This complicated condition often comes with other diagnoses, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. At Cumberland Heights, we offer comprehensive, simultaneous treatment for addiction, co-occurring disorders and trauma.


Co-Occurring Disorders Explained

When a person has a substance use disorder and a mental illness at the same time, they are said to have a co-occurring disorder. They may also be referred to as dual diagnosis patients. It is not uncommon to experience both of these issues at the same time; in fact, research shows that one in four adults with a diagnosed mental illness also has a substance use disorder.

Common co-occurring disorders include mood disorders (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder), schizophrenia and PTSD, with mood disorders being the most prevalent.

Either the mental illness or addiction may come first; however, these conditions feed into one another. While a person may begin drinking to calm their anxiety, this same alcohol use will eventually worsen their anxiety over time. Similarly, some people develop depression after an ongoing period of substance abuse.

Until recently, these two conditions were treated separately. Clinical professionals believed that mental illness and addiction were separate concerns. Today, our treatment approach has evolved. Addiction specialists simultaneously treat mental health problems and substance use disorders. This ensures effective, comprehensive treatment which contributes to a higher chance of sustained recovery.


What is Trauma?

Trauma is another condition commonly associated with substance abuse. It is defined as the experience of any troubling, life-threatening event. Acute trauma happens suddenly and unexpectedly, and may include personal injury, car accidents or being the victim of a crime. In other cases, poor living conditions and ongoing abuse may traumatize a person over several weeks, months or years.

Signs of trauma include:

  • Hypervigilance (extreme alertness)
  • Panic attacks
  • Inability to relax
  • Memory problems
  • Substance abuse
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability or anger problems
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Inability to function

Unfortunately, trauma increases a person’s likelihood of developing a substance use disorder. Some people attempt to self-medicate the symptoms of their post-traumatic stress disorder away through heavy drug and alcohol consumption. This coping mechanism is ineffective because it creates a new problem and fails to address the root issue.

This is why effective treatment for co-occurring disorders and trauma is of the utmost importance for your recovery.


Begin the Healing Process

Many people believe that once you have attended treatment for the first time, all of your problems should be solved. However, most of us could strengthen our recovery by dedicating extra time to cultivating improved mental health and addressing our past trauma.

This can take several forms. Some people may want to work with a therapist to analyze their past behavior and experiences, which can help us to gain new insight and a fresh perspective. Others may find it beneficial to participate in alumni support groups or regular outpatient programming, where one can hear the experiences of their peers and benefit from their knowledge.

Regardless of your approach, professional help is recommended. Trauma can be especially challenging to work through; its effects may take months or years to show up, and it is possible that sufferers have blocked out the event in their memory. Mental illness also presents an obstacle, as sufferers may not know that another way of life is possible.

Fortunately, help is available. At Cumberland Heights, we provide individualized treatment for addiction, co-occurring disorders and trauma. Our facilities offer a blend of exceptional psychosocial, spiritual, expressive and recreational therapies, which combine to create total healing.

Our staff members are living proof that long-term recovery is possible. Many of the people on our clinical team have ten or more years of experience in recovery care. Our addiction specialists are trained in evidence-based modalities like cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, family systems work, trauma-informed care and 12-Step facilitation. These are considered the gold standard of care for addiction, co-occurring disorders and trauma.

To get your own customized treatment plan, contact Cumberland Heights today. Our compassionate staff members are standing by to help you to recover from co-occurring disorders and trauma.