Getting Help for Co-occurring Disorders

Reviewed May 31, 2017

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Summary

  • Treatment should be client-centered.
  • You may also need help with housing, child care, or finding a job.
     

Having a mental illness or a substance use disorder can be hard to deal with. Having both is even harder. Studies show that people with co-occurring disorders (COD) are less likely to comply with or respond to treatment. This puts them at a greater risk for relapse. They are also more likely to become violent, experience homelessness, or go to jail. The risk of getting AIDS and other illnesses is higher as well.

There is hope though. You can improve with proper treatment. This means being treated for both issues separately but at the same time. This is because the disorders not only co-exist, but they also co-affect each other. For instance, someone with depression may drink alcohol to try to feel better. A person who drinks may do so because he feels depressed. If only one issue is being addressed, the other issue can disrupt its treatment.

Before you can begin feeling better, you must first realize the need for treatment. You may not want to admit to your family or yourself that you have a mental illness. You may be afraid to tell your doctor or your boss about your substance use. You may be trying to hide one or both issues from your friends or co-workers. Maybe you simply are not sure if you have any serious issues or not.

Signs of mental illness

The symptoms of mental illness will vary depending on the disease. Often a person may not realize she is impaired. This is true whether it is the onset of a disease or a relapse. It is therefore good to have friends or family nearby looking out for you.

Some of the signs that could indicate a mental illness include:

  • Extreme moodiness
  • Depression
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Withdrawal
  • Apathy
  • High-risk taking
  • High sensitivity
  • Extreme irritation
  • Inattention
  • Trouble with eating or sleeping
  • Sexual dysfunction

Signs of substance use disorder

Substance use disorder can have some of the same symptoms of mental illness. Some other signs that you may have a substance use disorder include:

  • Getting drunk or high regularly
  • Drinking or doing other drugs by yourself
  • Driving while drunk or high
  • Building up a tolerance to alcohol or other drugs
  • Hiding or lying about drinking or taking other drugs
  • Withdrawing from friends or hobbies to get drunk or high
  • Going to work or school high or drunk
  • Missing work or school because of drugs or alcohol
  • Passing out or being hung over often

If you think your drinking or drug use may be an issue, get help right away. Do not try to carry the burden all by yourself. Seek out a trusted friend or loved one. Speak to a pastor or counselor. Then find a substance use treatment center and get involved in a 12-step program.

Client-centered treatment

To be successful, both disorders should be treated at the same time. Once you have reached out for help, you must stay involved in the treatment process. This means being active in the planning and decision making. Other people can give you advice but you should make your own choices. This will help empower you to better promote your own recovery.

Talk therapy will be a big part of your treatment. This may include one-on-one, group and family counseling. A 12-step program may be needed for help with substance use issues. Social skills and stress coping skills should be addressed. You may also need help with housing, child care or finding a job. Though you have the lead role, you will need the support of many others. Welcome the input from your doctor or health care worker, as well as family and friends. Realize that they all want what is best for you.

Be aware that recovery may take months or even years. Your progress may be slow at times and there could be setbacks. Do not lose hope. Instead, focus on short-term goals and ask for extra support. Distance yourself from negative influences and surround yourself with positive people. Believe that if you stay on course with your treatment, you can and will get better.

Resources

Alcoholics Anonymous
www.aa.org

Mental Health America
www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Narcotics Anonymous
www.na.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org

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

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//PHD1130/PHD1130.pdf; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org; Mental Health America, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/co-occurring-disorder-and-youth
Reviewed by Sanjay Vaswani, MD, CMQ, DFAPA, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Treatment should be client-centered.
  • You may also need help with housing, child care, or finding a job.
     

Having a mental illness or a substance use disorder can be hard to deal with. Having both is even harder. Studies show that people with co-occurring disorders (COD) are less likely to comply with or respond to treatment. This puts them at a greater risk for relapse. They are also more likely to become violent, experience homelessness, or go to jail. The risk of getting AIDS and other illnesses is higher as well.

There is hope though. You can improve with proper treatment. This means being treated for both issues separately but at the same time. This is because the disorders not only co-exist, but they also co-affect each other. For instance, someone with depression may drink alcohol to try to feel better. A person who drinks may do so because he feels depressed. If only one issue is being addressed, the other issue can disrupt its treatment.

Before you can begin feeling better, you must first realize the need for treatment. You may not want to admit to your family or yourself that you have a mental illness. You may be afraid to tell your doctor or your boss about your substance use. You may be trying to hide one or both issues from your friends or co-workers. Maybe you simply are not sure if you have any serious issues or not.

Signs of mental illness

The symptoms of mental illness will vary depending on the disease. Often a person may not realize she is impaired. This is true whether it is the onset of a disease or a relapse. It is therefore good to have friends or family nearby looking out for you.

Some of the signs that could indicate a mental illness include:

  • Extreme moodiness
  • Depression
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Withdrawal
  • Apathy
  • High-risk taking
  • High sensitivity
  • Extreme irritation
  • Inattention
  • Trouble with eating or sleeping
  • Sexual dysfunction

Signs of substance use disorder

Substance use disorder can have some of the same symptoms of mental illness. Some other signs that you may have a substance use disorder include:

  • Getting drunk or high regularly
  • Drinking or doing other drugs by yourself
  • Driving while drunk or high
  • Building up a tolerance to alcohol or other drugs
  • Hiding or lying about drinking or taking other drugs
  • Withdrawing from friends or hobbies to get drunk or high
  • Going to work or school high or drunk
  • Missing work or school because of drugs or alcohol
  • Passing out or being hung over often

If you think your drinking or drug use may be an issue, get help right away. Do not try to carry the burden all by yourself. Seek out a trusted friend or loved one. Speak to a pastor or counselor. Then find a substance use treatment center and get involved in a 12-step program.

Client-centered treatment

To be successful, both disorders should be treated at the same time. Once you have reached out for help, you must stay involved in the treatment process. This means being active in the planning and decision making. Other people can give you advice but you should make your own choices. This will help empower you to better promote your own recovery.

Talk therapy will be a big part of your treatment. This may include one-on-one, group and family counseling. A 12-step program may be needed for help with substance use issues. Social skills and stress coping skills should be addressed. You may also need help with housing, child care or finding a job. Though you have the lead role, you will need the support of many others. Welcome the input from your doctor or health care worker, as well as family and friends. Realize that they all want what is best for you.

Be aware that recovery may take months or even years. Your progress may be slow at times and there could be setbacks. Do not lose hope. Instead, focus on short-term goals and ask for extra support. Distance yourself from negative influences and surround yourself with positive people. Believe that if you stay on course with your treatment, you can and will get better.

Resources

Alcoholics Anonymous
www.aa.org

Mental Health America
www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Narcotics Anonymous
www.na.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org

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

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//PHD1130/PHD1130.pdf; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org; Mental Health America, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/co-occurring-disorder-and-youth
Reviewed by Sanjay Vaswani, MD, CMQ, DFAPA, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Treatment should be client-centered.
  • You may also need help with housing, child care, or finding a job.
     

Having a mental illness or a substance use disorder can be hard to deal with. Having both is even harder. Studies show that people with co-occurring disorders (COD) are less likely to comply with or respond to treatment. This puts them at a greater risk for relapse. They are also more likely to become violent, experience homelessness, or go to jail. The risk of getting AIDS and other illnesses is higher as well.

There is hope though. You can improve with proper treatment. This means being treated for both issues separately but at the same time. This is because the disorders not only co-exist, but they also co-affect each other. For instance, someone with depression may drink alcohol to try to feel better. A person who drinks may do so because he feels depressed. If only one issue is being addressed, the other issue can disrupt its treatment.

Before you can begin feeling better, you must first realize the need for treatment. You may not want to admit to your family or yourself that you have a mental illness. You may be afraid to tell your doctor or your boss about your substance use. You may be trying to hide one or both issues from your friends or co-workers. Maybe you simply are not sure if you have any serious issues or not.

Signs of mental illness

The symptoms of mental illness will vary depending on the disease. Often a person may not realize she is impaired. This is true whether it is the onset of a disease or a relapse. It is therefore good to have friends or family nearby looking out for you.

Some of the signs that could indicate a mental illness include:

  • Extreme moodiness
  • Depression
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Withdrawal
  • Apathy
  • High-risk taking
  • High sensitivity
  • Extreme irritation
  • Inattention
  • Trouble with eating or sleeping
  • Sexual dysfunction

Signs of substance use disorder

Substance use disorder can have some of the same symptoms of mental illness. Some other signs that you may have a substance use disorder include:

  • Getting drunk or high regularly
  • Drinking or doing other drugs by yourself
  • Driving while drunk or high
  • Building up a tolerance to alcohol or other drugs
  • Hiding or lying about drinking or taking other drugs
  • Withdrawing from friends or hobbies to get drunk or high
  • Going to work or school high or drunk
  • Missing work or school because of drugs or alcohol
  • Passing out or being hung over often

If you think your drinking or drug use may be an issue, get help right away. Do not try to carry the burden all by yourself. Seek out a trusted friend or loved one. Speak to a pastor or counselor. Then find a substance use treatment center and get involved in a 12-step program.

Client-centered treatment

To be successful, both disorders should be treated at the same time. Once you have reached out for help, you must stay involved in the treatment process. This means being active in the planning and decision making. Other people can give you advice but you should make your own choices. This will help empower you to better promote your own recovery.

Talk therapy will be a big part of your treatment. This may include one-on-one, group and family counseling. A 12-step program may be needed for help with substance use issues. Social skills and stress coping skills should be addressed. You may also need help with housing, child care or finding a job. Though you have the lead role, you will need the support of many others. Welcome the input from your doctor or health care worker, as well as family and friends. Realize that they all want what is best for you.

Be aware that recovery may take months or even years. Your progress may be slow at times and there could be setbacks. Do not lose hope. Instead, focus on short-term goals and ask for extra support. Distance yourself from negative influences and surround yourself with positive people. Believe that if you stay on course with your treatment, you can and will get better.

Resources

Alcoholics Anonymous
www.aa.org

Mental Health America
www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Narcotics Anonymous
www.na.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org

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

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//PHD1130/PHD1130.pdf; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org; Mental Health America, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/co-occurring-disorder-and-youth
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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