Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders refer to the co-existence of a mental health problem and a substance use disorder. Co-occurring disorders are sometimes referred to by the older term “dual diagnosis.”

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

Co-occurring disorders are one of the most common mental health problems, affecting approximately 7.9 million Americans in 2014, yet individuals with co-occurring disorders often do not get the treatment they need. In fact, nearly half of people seeking treatment for substance use problems also have another mental health condition.

Co-occurring disorders can affect anyone. Young or old, man or woman, from any culture or socioeconomic situation. Any mental health disorder can co-occur with a substance use disorder. The most common co-occurring mental health problems are depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

Co-occurring disorders represent a major “chicken or the egg” problem: it is difficult to know what came first, the substance use or the mental health problems. In many cases, individuals turn to substance abuse to cope with the psychological distress brought on by mental health problems. However, prolonged substance abuse can also initiate or exacerbate mental health conditions. In either case, the co-occurrence of substance use and mental health issues can be extremely difficult to disentangle. Each can fuel the other, creating a vicious cycle in which a person may experience a decline in mental health, followed by an uptick in substance use in an attempt to numb their psychological pain.

Approach to Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders

Historically, many people with co-occurring disorders have slipped through the cracks when it comes to treatment. Those attempting to enter substance abuse rehab facilities would often be told that they must deal with their mental health issues before beginning treatment. They would then seek mental health services, only to be told that they need to address their substance use first.

Sunrise Behavioral Health Clinic takes an integrated approach to treatment of co-occurring disorders. We believe that substance use and mental health problems are so intertwined that they should be addressed concurrently. Only by understanding the interplay between these issues can we truly make progress in treatment.

Our Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment Team

Treatment of co-occurring disorders begins with a thorough assessment. This includes understanding your personal history, medical history, substance use history, current emotional functioning, current substance use patterns, prior treatments, current medications, personal relationships, and relevant lifestyle factors. We use this information to better understand the factors that led to your struggle with mental health issues and substance abuse.

When appropriate, we may recommend medical detox to support you through the withdrawal period. Undergoing detoxification in a medically supervised environment can ensure you are safe and medically stable.

Our Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment Team offers specialized services to address the issues underlying your difficulties or making them worse. Our services include individual psychotherapy as well as group therapy with other individuals experiencing similar issues. We believe in taking a holistic approach to co-occurring disorders. This might include:

  • Addressing problematic sleep habits, as poor sleep can make mental health problems worse
  • Getting help for any untreated medical conditions, particularly chronic pain
  • Identifying ways to improve nutrition or eating patterns
  • Understanding your communication style and communication difficulties. We can provide targeted interventions to improve communication skills.
  • Focusing on family or personal relationships that have been harmed in the course of your mental health and substance use problems.
  • Identifying goals for the future, including education or job skills
  • Managing legal issues that may have occurred because of your co-occurring disorders

We offer treatment for co-occurring disorders in English or Spanish. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.