The brain is powerful, yet very delicate. Drugs and alcohol can severely affect how your brain functions, leading to serious consequences. Alongside addiction and substance use disorders, someone can develop a mental health issue. This could be a prior underlying issue or it could be the result of substance abuse. Both, require medical treatment. If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health disorder and addiction, seek help as soon as possible.

What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

Substance use disorders are sometimes more commonly referred to as: addiction. Substance use often occurs alongside other mental health disorders. A person who is suffering with a substance use disorder and is battling another mental health disorder are considered to have a co-occurring disorder. Suffering from addiction in itself is considered a disorder and a brain disease, which requires treatment. Having a co-occurring disorder often amplifies symptoms of both.

Drugs and alcohol can severely and sometimes permanently affect the brain. Drugs and alcohol disrupt how your brain sends messages to your body. This can cause adverse effects to occur and can sometimes lead to the development of a mental health disorder. Studies have shown that more than fifty-percent of those suffering from substance use disorders also have other mental health illnesses. Treatment should be focuses not only on the addiction, but also on all facets of a person’s life and well being. Comprehensive treatment will help the person recover from both the addiction and the co-occurring mental health disorders.

What are Mental Health Disorders?

Mental health disorders can also be referred to as “mental illness”. Experiencing mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Mental health disorders are health conditions that require treatment, just as someone suffering from heart disease needs treatment. These disorders cause changes in emotion, behavior, and thinking. They can affect anyone and occur at any age. Symptoms of mental health disorders can range from mild to severe, with the most severe cases requiring hospitalization. The good news is that mental health disorders are treatable.

Taking care of your mental health is an important step in the recovery process. Healthcare professionals argue that mental health is truly the foundation of the brain. Emotions, communication, learning, and self-esteem all boil down to mental health. Those who suffer sometimes do not wish to talk about it, for fear of judgement or other personal reasons. However, treatment is important and necessary for the recovery process. Medical professionals at a treatment center will be able to help you assess your symptoms and develop a personalized treatment plan.

Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders

Symptoms of co-occurring disorders vary from person to person and may be difficult to spot. They could depend which substances you are struggling with, medical history, and the type of mental illness. However, there are signs that you can watch for that may be an indicator. As always, if you suspect you or a loved one is suffering from a co-occurring mental health disorder, it is important to seek treatment.

Signs and symptoms of a co-occurring disorder most often present themselves and social and lifestyle changes. These can include legal problems or becoming more isolated. You may notice a drastic shift in your loved one’s mood or behavior that is out of character, such as violence. When you are around them, you may notice that they have difficulty focusing and get agitated easily. They begin to have trouble at their job or issues with completing school work.

Mental Health Disorders that Co-Occur with Drug Abuse

Some of the most common types of mental health disorders that occur alongside substance abuse are those associated with mood, personality, and behavior. However, any mental health disorder can co-occur with substance abuse. Each category of disorder can contain several different disorders. The symptoms for each range in severity and may show up differently according to the person.

Mood disorders are a category that encompasses depressive disorders, as well as bipolar disorders. Mood disorders alongside substance abuse are usually categorized as feelings of extreme sadness that last for an abnormal amount of time. It can usually be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Depressive disorders include major depression, persistent depression, psychotic depression, and bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by abnormal shifts in mood, predominantly extreme mood swings. These disorders include bipolar I and II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.

Personality disorders consist of unhealthy thinking patterns and actions. They are noted to be very difficult to live with and can interfere heavily with normal everyday life. Personality disorders are divided up into three groups; cluster A, cluster B, and cluster C. Those in cluster A may have a paranoid personality disorder or schizoid personality disorder. Those in cluster B display more problems in emotional behavior, which may cause them to have antisocial personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. Someone in cluster C may be very anxious or paranoid, which may cause them to have avoidant personality disorder or dependent personality disorder.

Behavioral disorders are sometimes more difficult to diagnose. This is because some people display behavioral problems, but they do not last long enough in order to warrant a disorder diagnosis. Behavioral disorders that could occur alongside substance abuse are conduct disorder, attention-deficit disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder.

Risk Factors to Watch For

Genes have a heavy hand in the development of both addiction and mental health disorders. If your family has a past history of either, you have a heightened risk and will be more susceptible. Stressful events or going through a traumatic experience can also prompt a mental health disorder. Those who are suffering from addiction can sometimes find themselves engaging in criminal or dangerous activity, which could be an environmental trigger. Studies have shown that both addiction and mental health disorders share a lot of the same risk factors.

Recovering from Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders require specialized treatment plans at professional treatment centers. Comprehensive treatment that addresses both the addiction and all facets of a person’s life is often the most effective. Every aspect of a mental illness will need to be addressed for recovery to be a success. Co-occurring disorders cannot be treated from home and without treatment, can lead to dangerous effects.

The Arizona Addiction Recovery Center specializes in comprehensive and integrated treatment plans that are designed for the individual. A healthcare professional will screen those who enroll to determine if the patient is also suffering from a mental health disorder. No two treatment plans are the same and each patient receives individualized care. Call today to start on your road to recovery.

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