Common Co-occurring Disorders

Reviewed May 31, 2017

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Summary

  • There is a high rate of depression and alcohol use.
  • Bipolar disorder and marijuana use co-occur frequently.
  • Schizophrenia and tobacco use is very common.

Co-occurring disorders (COD) means having at least one mental illness and one or more substance use disorder. The substance use can be any drug or drugs. The mental illness can be any mental disorder. There are many types of COD. Some, though, are more common than others.

Depression and alcohol use

Depression is a mental illness that is often ignored. Sometimes it is from some other health issue. Symptoms can be weight loss, lack of sleep and lack of energy.

A third of people with low spirits also have a substance or alcohol use disorder. Many people drink as a way of dealing with depression. While it may give short-term help, drinking makes things worse in the long run. It can even cause a person to feel even lower. Alcohol use often hinders a person’s mental health care. The person who is drinking is less likely to stick to her doctor’s plan. She may forget to take her pills and miss doctor visits.

Alcohol use has its own set of risk factors. Short-term can include bad judgment and motor skills as well as more risk taking. This can lead to alcohol-linked car crashes, injuries and death. Long-term issues can include liver and heart disease.

Bipolar disorder and marijuana use

A person with bipolar disorder has mood swings that get in the way of his normal life. These mood shifts can cause problems at home, at school, or at work. The low stages are much like states of depression. The difference is that people with bipolar disorder also have high stages called mania. Mania symptoms include high energy, rapid thoughts and speech, and reckless actions.
 
As with depression, there is a high rate of alcohol use among people who have bipolar disorder. Studies show an even higher rate of marijuana use among these same people. Marijuana is believed to be a trigger for those who are prone to the disease. It is not known if marijuana is a cause of the illness. It does appear to make the risk of getting such disorders higher.

Schizophrenia and tobacco use

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental illness that touches millions of adults. It upsets a person’s thinking, which can cause strange outward actions. People with the illness often hear voices. They may also see things that aren’t really there. These voices and visions are very real to the person. This can cause great fear within the person. It can also cause other people to be fearful of them and to stay away from them.

It is very common for people with schizophrenia to also use tobacco. Smokers with this illness have a greater dependence and a harder time quitting. When they do stop smoking, the withdrawal symptoms are worse than for those without the disease. The link between these disorders is thought to be the central nervous system. People with schizophrenia can have a hard time with memory and staying focused. Nicotine may make them feel better, but the long-term hazards of smoking greatly offsets any benefit.

Treating COD

No matter what type of COD you have, you should be treated for each issue separately. This is because one will affect the other. Treatment will most likely be talk therapy as well as taking meds. A 12-step program might be needed for substance use issues. Treatment may be long-term, but if you stick with it, you will get better.

Resources

Alcoholics Anonymous
www.aa.org

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
www.dbsalliance.org

Mental Health America
www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Narcotics Anonymous
www.na.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org

National Institute of Mental Health
www.nimh.nih.gov

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
www.samhsa.gov

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2215390/ www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2811144/ and www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21288470; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org; Mental Health America, www.nmha.org/conditions/co-occurring-disorders-and-depression
Reviewed by Sanjay Vaswani, MD, CMQ, DFAPA, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • There is a high rate of depression and alcohol use.
  • Bipolar disorder and marijuana use co-occur frequently.
  • Schizophrenia and tobacco use is very common.

Co-occurring disorders (COD) means having at least one mental illness and one or more substance use disorder. The substance use can be any drug or drugs. The mental illness can be any mental disorder. There are many types of COD. Some, though, are more common than others.

Depression and alcohol use

Depression is a mental illness that is often ignored. Sometimes it is from some other health issue. Symptoms can be weight loss, lack of sleep and lack of energy.

A third of people with low spirits also have a substance or alcohol use disorder. Many people drink as a way of dealing with depression. While it may give short-term help, drinking makes things worse in the long run. It can even cause a person to feel even lower. Alcohol use often hinders a person’s mental health care. The person who is drinking is less likely to stick to her doctor’s plan. She may forget to take her pills and miss doctor visits.

Alcohol use has its own set of risk factors. Short-term can include bad judgment and motor skills as well as more risk taking. This can lead to alcohol-linked car crashes, injuries and death. Long-term issues can include liver and heart disease.

Bipolar disorder and marijuana use

A person with bipolar disorder has mood swings that get in the way of his normal life. These mood shifts can cause problems at home, at school, or at work. The low stages are much like states of depression. The difference is that people with bipolar disorder also have high stages called mania. Mania symptoms include high energy, rapid thoughts and speech, and reckless actions.
 
As with depression, there is a high rate of alcohol use among people who have bipolar disorder. Studies show an even higher rate of marijuana use among these same people. Marijuana is believed to be a trigger for those who are prone to the disease. It is not known if marijuana is a cause of the illness. It does appear to make the risk of getting such disorders higher.

Schizophrenia and tobacco use

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental illness that touches millions of adults. It upsets a person’s thinking, which can cause strange outward actions. People with the illness often hear voices. They may also see things that aren’t really there. These voices and visions are very real to the person. This can cause great fear within the person. It can also cause other people to be fearful of them and to stay away from them.

It is very common for people with schizophrenia to also use tobacco. Smokers with this illness have a greater dependence and a harder time quitting. When they do stop smoking, the withdrawal symptoms are worse than for those without the disease. The link between these disorders is thought to be the central nervous system. People with schizophrenia can have a hard time with memory and staying focused. Nicotine may make them feel better, but the long-term hazards of smoking greatly offsets any benefit.

Treating COD

No matter what type of COD you have, you should be treated for each issue separately. This is because one will affect the other. Treatment will most likely be talk therapy as well as taking meds. A 12-step program might be needed for substance use issues. Treatment may be long-term, but if you stick with it, you will get better.

Resources

Alcoholics Anonymous
www.aa.org

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
www.dbsalliance.org

Mental Health America
www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Narcotics Anonymous
www.na.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org

National Institute of Mental Health
www.nimh.nih.gov

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
www.samhsa.gov

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2215390/ www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2811144/ and www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21288470; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org; Mental Health America, www.nmha.org/conditions/co-occurring-disorders-and-depression
Reviewed by Sanjay Vaswani, MD, CMQ, DFAPA, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • There is a high rate of depression and alcohol use.
  • Bipolar disorder and marijuana use co-occur frequently.
  • Schizophrenia and tobacco use is very common.

Co-occurring disorders (COD) means having at least one mental illness and one or more substance use disorder. The substance use can be any drug or drugs. The mental illness can be any mental disorder. There are many types of COD. Some, though, are more common than others.

Depression and alcohol use

Depression is a mental illness that is often ignored. Sometimes it is from some other health issue. Symptoms can be weight loss, lack of sleep and lack of energy.

A third of people with low spirits also have a substance or alcohol use disorder. Many people drink as a way of dealing with depression. While it may give short-term help, drinking makes things worse in the long run. It can even cause a person to feel even lower. Alcohol use often hinders a person’s mental health care. The person who is drinking is less likely to stick to her doctor’s plan. She may forget to take her pills and miss doctor visits.

Alcohol use has its own set of risk factors. Short-term can include bad judgment and motor skills as well as more risk taking. This can lead to alcohol-linked car crashes, injuries and death. Long-term issues can include liver and heart disease.

Bipolar disorder and marijuana use

A person with bipolar disorder has mood swings that get in the way of his normal life. These mood shifts can cause problems at home, at school, or at work. The low stages are much like states of depression. The difference is that people with bipolar disorder also have high stages called mania. Mania symptoms include high energy, rapid thoughts and speech, and reckless actions.
 
As with depression, there is a high rate of alcohol use among people who have bipolar disorder. Studies show an even higher rate of marijuana use among these same people. Marijuana is believed to be a trigger for those who are prone to the disease. It is not known if marijuana is a cause of the illness. It does appear to make the risk of getting such disorders higher.

Schizophrenia and tobacco use

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental illness that touches millions of adults. It upsets a person’s thinking, which can cause strange outward actions. People with the illness often hear voices. They may also see things that aren’t really there. These voices and visions are very real to the person. This can cause great fear within the person. It can also cause other people to be fearful of them and to stay away from them.

It is very common for people with schizophrenia to also use tobacco. Smokers with this illness have a greater dependence and a harder time quitting. When they do stop smoking, the withdrawal symptoms are worse than for those without the disease. The link between these disorders is thought to be the central nervous system. People with schizophrenia can have a hard time with memory and staying focused. Nicotine may make them feel better, but the long-term hazards of smoking greatly offsets any benefit.

Treating COD

No matter what type of COD you have, you should be treated for each issue separately. This is because one will affect the other. Treatment will most likely be talk therapy as well as taking meds. A 12-step program might be needed for substance use issues. Treatment may be long-term, but if you stick with it, you will get better.

Resources

Alcoholics Anonymous
www.aa.org

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
www.dbsalliance.org

Mental Health America
www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Narcotics Anonymous
www.na.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org

National Institute of Mental Health
www.nimh.nih.gov

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
www.samhsa.gov

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2215390/ www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2811144/ and www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21288470; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org; Mental Health America, www.nmha.org/conditions/co-occurring-disorders-and-depression
Reviewed by Sanjay Vaswani, MD, CMQ, DFAPA, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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