Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders and Addiction

The term “co-occurring disorder” is used to describe someone who is dealing with a substance abuse problem while simultaneously dealing with mental health issues. Co-occurring disorders are also often referred to as a “dual diagnosis” which is warranted whenever a patient is suffering from a combination of mental health disorders and alcohol and/or drug misuse.

For a number of reasons, certain mental health issues are frequently associated with substance abuse. Examples of this include links between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and opioid addiction alcoholism and depression, eating disorders and cocaine addiction, and prescription drug dependence and anxiety.

While it is sometimes tough for clinicians to determine whether a mental health issue was the trigger for substance abuse or whether the substance abuse exacerbated or caused a mental health issue in the first place, the combination of co-occurring disorders in a single patient can create a significant negative feedback loop. For instance, when someone who abuses alcohol gets depressed, this can often lead them to drink more. When they drink, they can become more depressed, then they drink more, etc. The cycle can cause a quick downward spiral.

The following are some of the co-occurring disorders that we see in New Life’s patients:

Alcohol Abuse & Mental Health

Alcohol abuse is associated with a range of mental health issues including:

  • Dementia
  • Schizophrenia
  • Drug addiction
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), antisocial personality disorder seems to share a very close link with alcoholism. Research shows that people who misuse alcohol are 21 times more likely to suffer from ASPD versus people who are not alcoholics. According to the NIAAA, the issues often develop early in life, but alcoholism can make the underlying mental illness worse because people who drink exhibit lowered inhibitions, which makes their antisocial behaviors more pronounced.

Marijuana Abuse & Schizophrenia

People who have schizophrenia often abuse or are addicted to marijuana and researchers don’t really know why. Perhaps there is something about the brain chemistry of some people who suffer from schizophrenia that causes them to seek out the kind of high that marijuana produces.

Of concern to researchers is the increasing potency of marijuana and THC derivatives like vape products and THC edibles. Today, marijuana consumables sometimes contain THC levels as high as 80%, which some believe is inducing psychedelic states in users that can be compared to the effects of LSD. Of concern is the speculation by researchers that LSD and super-potent marijuana derivatives could actually cause schizophrenic onset in people who are pre-disposed to this illness but who have not experienced onset until the drugs were used. If potent marijuana has the ability to induce schizophrenic onset in vulnerable patients and people who have a history of schizophrenia in their families should avoid this drug.

As for people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, it is not unusual for them to develop addictions. In fact, a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that about half of all people with schizophrenia also have a substance abuse disorder.

Cocaine Addiction & Anxiety Disorders

People who abuse cocaine often take the drug because it delivers a powerful euphoric effect and feelings of strength and energy. What people who abuse cocaine don’t realize is that continued use often leads to a range of symptoms similar to an anxiety disorder. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Violence

Many of these symptoms can be alleviated or even eliminated completely if the person ceases using cocaine and becomes sober. However, in some severe cases, symptoms of anxiety disorder can linger well after sobriety has been achieved. If this is the case, counseling can help.

Opioid Addiction & PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that a person can have if they experience a violent episode. This can include horrific incidents of sexual abuse and rape, automobile accidents and injury or maiming in war. PTSD sufferers don’t even need to be the victim since traumatic stress can occur from simply witnessing a violent or deadly incident.

People who receive serious physical injuries from a violent incident are often prescribed painkillers. Besides alleviating pain, these drugs can also boost feelings of pleasure and calm inside the brain. The problem arises when these patients need to keep using the prescription painkillers, which are often opioid drugs, in order to continue to feel normal. In these cases, the patient needs to be weaned off the drugs, but their mental state needs to be addressed through therapy.

Heroin Addiction & Depression

Heroin is one of the most addictive known substances. And while heroin can provide a user with strong feelings of euphoria in the short term, long-time use can negatively impact the portions of the brain responsible for feelings of pleasure and well-being. Over time this can lead to a form of brain damage that produces depression. Once this occurs a heroin user becomes incapable of feeling happiness unless the drug is present.

Each of these co-occurring disorders can leave patients and those who love them feeling hopeless. Fortunately, the skilled treatment provided by the doctors and clinicians at New Life Medical Addiction Services can break this vicious cycle. Our brand-new Marlton, New Jersey facility is home to the area’s best addiction doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and clinicians, who can treat both patient’s substance abuse and their co-occurring mental health issue.

New Life provides all the latest detox and rehab treatments for alcohol and drug abuse using our advanced outpatient model, where our patients can recover from substance issues in the comfort of their own homes. While our patients are receiving treatment for their substance abuse issues, they can also benefit from our full range of counseling services.

New Life’s Counselling Services

New Life is skilled at treating co-occurring disorders. Once we have evaluated a new patient to determine if they do have a co-occurring disorder, we will come up with a treatment and therapy plan that will be customized to their specific need.

Throughout the patient’s recovery and for as long as they need into the future, New Life will be there to provide help and show the way to a better life.

If you’d like to know more about how co-occurring conditions develop and how they can be treated, then you need to contact the doctors and clinicians at New Life Medical Addiction Services today. Our caring and highly trained staff is available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us at: 856-942-3700 or send us a Text Message

Co-Occurring Disorders

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