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How to Cope With a Co-Occurring Disorder

It is not uncommon to learn new things about yourself when you enter treatment, including a diagnosis of a secondary disorder. A co-occurring disorder is when a person is struggling with both substance use disorder (SUD) and a mental health disorder, which is common. Once you understand that there is more to your SUD than you knew, you can come to terms with your diagnosis.

Why Do Co-Occurring Disorders Happen?

Co-occurring disorders occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • A genetic predisposition to mental health disorders or SUD
  • A pre-existing mental health disorder that led to substance use and consequently misuse as a way to cope with distressing symptoms
  • A mental health disorder as a result of chronic substance abuse

SUD and some mental health disorders share genetic vulnerability, changes in the brain, or childhood stress or trauma. The changes that take place in the brain from SUD occur in the same areas that are impacted by mental health disorders.

What Types of Mental Health Disorders Typically Occur With SUD?

SUD occurs more frequently with specific mental health problems. The most common disorders include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders

What Are Treatment Options for Co-Occurring Disorders?

SUD and mental health disorders must be treated simultaneously by the same treatment team through effective integrated and trauma-specific care. The prognosis is good if the disorders are treated together by an experienced team.

The following factors make treatment successful:

  • Shared decision making
  • Integration of services provided by the same team
  • A comprehensive, integrated program that offers various services and therapies
  • Harm reduction
  • Long-term planning and perspective

When you have a co-occurring disorder, you must address both together rather than independent of each other. Treatments for both can include behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectal behavior therapy (DBT), paired with medication.

Someone has a co-occurring disorder if they are experiencing both mental health and a substance use disorder (SUD). Co-occurring disorders are common and treatable. Your recovery journey is a lifelong process, which is why it is vital to find a program with experience in treating co-occurring disorders. The Guest House has an integrated residential treatment program that will ensure that both disorders are addressed together, resulting in successful recovery, improved well-being, and a bright outlook on a substance-free life. Call The Guest House today for more information on treatment options and for help creating your ideal program at (855) 483-7800.