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Tips On Dealing With A Co-Occurring Disorder

Woman thinking about tips on dealing with a co-occurring disorder

Co-occurring disorders are very common in the realm of substance abuse. The term refers to any mental illness that an addiction recovery patient is simultaneously coping with. Research shows that addiction and substance abuse tend to feed into one another. This causes vicious cycles until patients deal with both simultaneously. Fortunately, dual diagnosis care does precisely this. You or your loved one can receive a comprehensive assessment at quality treatment centers like Northpoint Seattle in Washington State. This allows you to get help for both substance abuse and any underlying mental illness all in one place. Call us today at 888.483.6031 to learn more about tips on dealing with a co-occurring disorder or to get more information on co-occurring disorder treatment.

What Are Some Tips on Dealing with a Co-Occurring Disorder?

The best action to manage a co-occurring disorder is to get professional help at a dual-diagnosis rehab center. That said, there are also several useful mental wellness approaches you can take for yourself, including:

  • Making or maintaining healthy social connections – Support from loved ones makes a world of difference in recovery. Try scheduling regular phone calls with several loved ones so you have a few different connections to look forward to each week. If you’re experiencing isolation, consider joining a group online or in person where participants share a common interest.
  • If at all possible, continuing regular therapy or joining a support group – Whether it’s a weekly meeting with an individual counselor, a group such as a 12-step, or a combination of the two, formal support offerings greatly improve your odds of lasting sobriety and mental wellness.
  • Knowing your triggers and taking steps to avoid them – During and after rehab, you may encounter people, situations, or other factors that bring up strong temptation to use drugs to cope. Know that you have power in these situations as well. Remember, you have the choice to exit situations if you are triggered. You may also need to remove toxic
  • or enabling relationships from your life.
  • Following your doctor’s instructions regarding medication and appointments – Especially if your doctor is treating your dual diagnosis with medication such as antidepressants, it’s important to check in with your provider before making any regimen changes.

Beyond these psychological tips, also remember to take care of your body if you’re managing a co-occurring disorder. Try to exercise most days, eat a balanced diet, and strive to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders in Addiction Recovery Settings

Any mental illness may co-occur with substance abuse, but there are several that are particularly common. Perhaps most famous is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD occurs when a person experiences a traumatic event and their nervous system cannot fully process it in real time. The trauma then continues to “live” in their body until they can address it. Symptoms often include flashbacks and nightmares about the event, social withdrawal or irritability, and a pronounced sense of emotional discomfort. Sadly, many people with untreated PTSD turn to substances like alcohol to try to calm themselves and cope. Unfortunately, this makes their physical and mental health worse in the long term because alcohol is toxic and a depressant.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and other anxiety-related conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are also common in substance abuse rehab settings. People living with GAD often experience a pronounced sense of dread or disease most of the time. OCD features recurring, distressing thoughts and subsequent ritual behaviors such as counting or washing. Some people dealing with anxiety try to “balance it out” with depressants like alcohol or barbiturates. Others seek out euphoric counter experiences through opioid or benzodiazepine abuse.

Finally, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are also prevalent in addiction treatment centers. Patients with bipolar disorder experience extended alternating periods of depression and mania. The former involves very low mood and energy, and the latter involves extremely high energy, erratic behavior, and potentially brief breaks from reality. Patients with schizophrenia struggle to differentiate reality from inner mental contents. In both disorders, symptoms are often so severe that those struggling turn to any drug they can find to try to escape.

Contact Northpoint Seattle to Arrange Intake for Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

Mental illness and substance abuse can be very challenging contenders, but remember that you define your life, not your ailments. Getting comprehensive and thoughtful support from addiction specialists who acknowledge dual diagnoses is a great place to start.

If you or a loved one is coping with both addiction and mental health concerns, Northpoint Seattle can help. Addressing both areas simultaneously strongly mitigates the risk that unmet needs in one will trigger a relapse in the other. Connect with Northpoint Seattle by calling 888.483.6031 or using our confidential online contact form to set up an initial assessment.