What Do I Need to Know about Co-Occurring Disorders?

What Do I Need to Know about Co-Occurring Disorders?

When a person has both a substance use disorder (SUD) and a mental illness, it’s called a co-occurring disorder, or dual diagnosis. If you have a co-occurring disorder, you’re not alone – in 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimated that around 7.9 million adults in the U.S. alone experience this. Having both an SUD and a mental illness can make a number of life aspects difficult – relationships, finances, general health and nutrition, career progression, daily responsibilities and more can fade away as a person gets caught up in not only the demands of their addiction, but also in the demands of their mental illness. Both can be draining, and that is why recovery is so important so seek out.

A 2015 study published in the journal Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences discovered that people who live in more remote locations have the highest rates of co-occurring disorders, and that’s because there’s little access to health and substance abuse services. There’s truly a complex layer of issues when co-occurring disorders are involved. Take, for example, a person who has both generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD). With GAD, they’re likely to experience the following:

  • Repeated anxiety
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Emotional distress

With AUD, they’re likely experiencing these symptoms as well:

  • Blackouts
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Physical substance dependence

Sometimes the symptoms may overlap, but it’s nonetheless very difficult to manage both at the same time – not all treatment centers can assist with both, so it’s important that if you or a loved one seek help, a treatment center that specializes in co-occurring disorders is selected. Not doing so could mean that only one concern at a time is dealt with, which could not only draw out symptoms but make them worse, too.

You need to know that recovery from co-occurring disorders is entirely possible. All you need is a strong support system and the right tools and resources. It takes time and hard work, but the amount of dedication you put into your recovery will pay off when you’re able to use the techniques you’ve learned throughout therapy and group activities. One of the biggest steps you’ll ever take is making the choice to seek help – but doing so gives you the chance to build a life that’s better than you could ever have imagined.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.