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What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

When struggling with addiction, we often experience mental and emotional difficulties as well, alongside our addictive patterns. We feel depressed, anxious, panicked and deeply sad, afraid and ashamed. We struggle to live our normal lives and keep up with our regular routines. We’re unable to function normally. We know we’re in a great deal of mental and emotional pain, but we often don’t know why. We might not have heard the term “co-occurring disorders” before. The idea of mental health issues accompanying our addictions might be totally new to us.

Many of us have never sought treatment before, either for our addictions or for our mental illnesses. We’ve been hesitant to get help. We’ve been resistant to the idea of identifying ourselves as addicts or as mentally ill. We’re afraid of the stigma, of what people will think, of how they will judge us. As we’re recovering from addiction, we enable ourselves to recover successfully by also healing our mental health issues. We should tell ourselves that there is neither shame in addiction nor in having mental health issues. We are struggling with serious illnesses and need support, not condemnation or disapproval. We need help. There is no shame in that. We all need help at some point in our lives. We all have difficult issues we have to live with, and these are ours.

Our co-occurring disorders vary for each individual. We might have trauma-related symptoms that developed into lasting mental health issues. We might have been struggling with recurring depressions since childhood, long before our addictions took root. We might have been diagnosed with bipolar depression, with the cycles of our mania and depression exacerbating and compounding our addictive cycles. Whatever our mental health issues are, however they manifest and whatever symptoms they present, we can only heal when we start looking at them honestly, when we begin to face them head on.

We tend to want to deny and hide our mental health issues, just as we do with our addictions. When we feel ashamed of ourselves and our issues, we tend to suppress our difficult feelings and symptoms. When we’re finally ready to recover, we allow ourselves to come out of the shadows. We don’t allow fear and shame to dictate our lives any longer. We summon our courage and inner strength and reach out for help. We should commend ourselves for every step we make towards recovery. There is incredible strength in allowing ourselves to be helped.

The caring, compassionate staff of The Guest House is here to support you as you start your journey to recovery and healing. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.