A co-occurring disorder is when someone has two or more mental health disorders or medical illnesses. They may overlap or one may appear before or after the other. If you think you have a co-occurring disorder or are at risk of acquiring one, a mental health treatment center can help you.
How Are Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Related?
There are some mental health conditions that are more likely to occur alongside substance abuse disorders. Research into co-occurring disorders is trying to identify more of them, but some of the prevalent mental health disorders that show a link are below:
- Anxiety disorders – 18% of the general population have a co-occurring anxiety disorder. Marijuana use has been shown to have a link with social anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder also show an increased risk with co-occurring disorders.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – ADHD has been linked to substance abuse disorder in young people, with them gravitating toward using drugs at an earlier age than their peers. Due to the number of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity symptoms observed in those suffering from ADHD, the risk of substance abuse is much higher than others in their respective age groups. Medications used to treat ADHD can also be addictive if the person taking them hasn’t been educated on how to properly manage their medication.
- Mood disorders – 20% of those with a substance abuse disorder have a co-occurring mood disorder like depression or bipolar disorder.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – People with PTSD are four times as likely to meet the criteria for a substance abuse disorder.
- Personality disorders – 10-15% of people have a personality disorder. Those who undergo treatment for addiction are 35-73% more likely to have one. Some of the personality disorders include borderline, antisocial, avoidant, and paranoid personality disorders.
3 Factors in Developing a Co-Occurring Disorder
Substance abuse disorders and mental health disorders make strange bedfellows, but they don’t seem to want to leave each other alone. They want to multiply and cause havoc in your life. Anxiety leads to depression. Depression leads to drinking heavily. Drinking leads to using prescription painkillers. The cycle is endless. The following three factors help explain why co-occurring disorders are commonplace:
- Self-medicating – People turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with symptoms of mental health disorders. Then when the drug or alcohol intake increases over time, either caused or exacerbated by the substance abuse, other disorders can surface.
- Overlapping risk factors – The common risk factors for substance abuse disorders and mental health disorders frequently overlap. This happens due to your genetics and some environmental factors that make it more likely that you develop a co-occurring disorder. Exposure to trauma is another element to point to when trying to find the cause.
- Drug-induced brain changes – Substance abuse can alter how your brain functions. The areas affected correspond to those associated with mood, anxiety, impulse control, and even schizophrenia.
Reach Out to Sunstone Recovery Today
Mental health and substance abuse are closely aligned. A mental health crisis can lead to you beginning to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs or an addiction problem could cause you to have mental health struggles. It is difficult to treat one without treating the other. At Sunstone Recovery in Bend, Oregon we offer virtual therapy through an online portal to better serve the entire state of Oregon during the pandemic. By using telemedicine, we can enter your world via a webcam and see who you are and how you live. In an odd way, the pandemic has brought us and our clients closer together. We can be reached online or at 855.833.9199 for you to take the first step on your journey to wellness and recovery.