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Treatment For Co-Occurring Disorders Within Rehab Centers

Medically reviewed by

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

April 4, 2019

If you have struggled with addiction for years without success, there may be a reason: co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders create a mental imbalance in your life that often drives you to addiction. Thankfully, treatment options are available for this problem, options that can help you obtain life-long sobriety.

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

When substance abuse is paired with an underlying mental or emotional problem, you are suffering from co-occurring disorders. This condition is incredibly common: some statistics claim that as much as 50 percent of people with mental or emotional disorders also possess a substance abuse disorder.

Why is this problem so common? The key reason is self-medication. Often, people with depression or other serious problems (such as severe anxiety) drink alcohol or use drugs to help calm their mind, kill emotional pain, or distract themselves from their problems.

Common co-occurring disorders include:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Anxiety

In the past, drug rehabilitation treatment would focus on simply curing a person of the physical characteristics of their addiction without being concerned about mental disorders. Unfortunately, these underlying problems (of which a person may have more than one) are one of the major contributors to an increased relapse risk.

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How Do I Know If I Have Co-Occurring Disorders?

If you are suffering from drug addiction, there’s a very strong chance that you also have one or more underlying mental or emotional disorders. These disorders contribute to and work alongside your addiction and make it nearly impossible to quit.

If an addiction treatment plan does not address mental health disorders, substance use is likely to continue due to not addressing all of the components of the addiction. Addiction is a biological, psychological and social disease, all of which need to be addressed and treated for successful long-term recovery.

Understanding if you have undiagnosed disorders can help you get the treatment you need to fully recover from addiction. Common symptoms of co-occurring disorders include:

  • Depression: hopelessness, weight changes, difficulty concentrating, problems sleeping, suicidal thoughts, severe anger, and loss of energy
  • Bipolar Disorder: wild and uncontrollable mood swings between mania (euphoria, grandiose beliefs, decreased need for sleep, intense creativity), and depression
  • Anxiety: nausea, trouble sleeping, jumpiness, irritability, headaches, extreme worrying for little to no reason
  • Borderline Personality Disorder: fear of abandonment, unstable relationships, problems with self image, impulsiveness, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, inappropriate anger, paranoia

This list is not meant to replace a true medical diagnosis. It should only serve as a discussion guide for you, your psychologist, and your rehabilitation treatment specialist.

Are There Treatment Options For Co-Occurring Disorders?

Dual diagnosis is the most commonly prescribed treatment option for co-occurring disorders. This treatment plan works to treat both your physical addiction and the mental/emotional problems that contribute to it. It attacks both fronts in an effort to fully eliminate all addiction symptoms, relieving you of the coinciding disorders, as well.

Typically, you will undergo a detoxification procedure to clean your body of any addictive substance and give you a more focused state of mind. The physical aspect of dual diagnosis treats your withdrawal symptoms as well as any health problems caused by your addiction.

The psychological aspect of dual diagnosis is likely going to be the hardest part of your recovery. First of all, your psychological disorder needs to be diagnosed, which takes analysis and frank discussion. Then, a treatment plan is created to eliminate or lessen the severity of your disorders.

Typical treatment options for co-occurring disorders include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Individual or group therapy sessions
  • Sober living therapy groups
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy

Working your way through these treatment therapies will help you identify your problems and find coping behaviors to eliminate them from your life. Many people with co-occurring disorders receive prescription medicines to treat chemical imbalances.

Finding A Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center

Dual diagnosis treatment is offered in rehabilitation centers all around the country: it has become a standard treatment option for co-occurring drug addiction. If you’re struggling to find a center near you, don’t hesitate to contact us at as soon as possible. Our helpful counselors can give you the assistance you need to kick start your recovery.

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