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What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

a man struggles with co occurring mental health and substance use disorders

Struggling with an addiction or another mental health issue on its own can be a scary, isolating, and challenging time. However, for many, the two might go hand-in-hand. It is very common for somebody who is struggling with addiction to be battling one or more mental health conditions. A co-occurring disorder occurs when somebody experiences a mental health condition at the same time as a substance addiction.

Substance abuse and mental health are often linked together, meaning treatment centers can often treat both. If you or a loved one are struggling with co-occurring disorders, reach out to our team at Northpoint Seattle today at 888.483.6031 or via our online form to discuss treatment options.

What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

A co-occurring disorder is simply a mental health condition that occurs at the same time as a substance addiction. Some mental health issues, such as mood and personality disorders, are fairly common in combination with substance use disorders. Young adults have higher rates of co-occurring disorders.

In some cases, symptoms of co-occurring disorders don’t always show up simultaneously. New co-occurring disorders can be diagnosed and found during addiction treatment.

Co-Occurring Disorders vs. Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders both sound very similar and have very similar definitions, making it easy for the two to be confused. Both terms are used in reference to two or more health concerns occurring simultaneously, usually a mental health condition and a substance use disorder.

So, what is dual diagnosis? Dual diagnosis refers to any combination of physical and mental health conditions that occur simultaneously. However, dual diagnosis refers specifically to two health conditions that are diagnosed at the same time. The two health issues that somebody is diagnosed with are diagnosed separately. This means that somebody could be diagnosed with a substance use disorder and a mental health condition that are completely unrelated, though they might affect each other.

If somebody is experiencing co-occurring disorders, one health condition is a result of the other. For example, somebody struggling with drug abuse might develop mental health conditions as a result. Similarly, somebody struggling with mental health conditions might turn to substances in an attempt to self-medicate.

For both co-occurring disorders and dual diagnoses, the mental health condition and substance abuse disorder must be treated simultaneously.

Catching Co-Occurring Disorders Early

A co-occurring disorder can look very different depending on the individual, the substances they’re abusing, and the mental health condition they are living with, among other factors. Some examples of signs and symptoms of co-occurring disorders include:

  • Avoiding social situations that you used to enjoy
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Neglecting health or hygiene
  • Erratic or impulsive behaviors
  • Difficulty managing responsibilities such as finances or schoolwork
  • Suicidal behavior or thoughts

Treatment is recommended for individuals struggling with co-occurring mental health and addiction issues.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

Some mental health conditions are commonly presented alongside addiction, though this may vary. Some common mental health conditions paired with addiction include:

Signs of co-occurring disorders can be different for everybody. If you notice that you or a loved one might be experiencing signs of any of the mentioned mental health issues, treatment is available. Treatment usually involves therapy and medication to manage symptoms and get to the underlying causes.

You Don’t Have to Fight It Alone: Get Started with Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment at Northpoint Seattle

Mental health conditions and addiction can both be overwhelming on their own. Combined, they can be even more overwhelming. However, there are people available to help. At Northpoint Seattle, we are prepared to treat any co-occurring disorders through therapies, medication, and other means of support. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and mental health, reach out to us today at 888.483.6031 or online to discuss treatment options.