Addiction is a disease, but it isn’t the only problem that some people face. As many as one-third of all addiction sufferers are also experiencing a mood or mental disorder. When this happens, they are said to have a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders.
Although any combination of addiction and mental health conditions can occur, some seem to go hand in hand more often than others. Addiction treatment centers are aware that common co-occurring disorders will frequently present together. Fortunately, with simultaneous treatments for these common co-occurring disorders, dual diagnosis management is possible.1
Alcohol Addiction and Depression
One of the most common co-occurring disorders involves alcoholism and depression. These two conditions are separate, of course, but have many connections. For one, alcohol is a depressant. Over time, abuse of alcohol can cause chemical alterations in the brain that can lead to temporary or even permanent depressive conditions. In some cases, depression occurs before addiction. People who attempt to self-medicate their symptoms of depression with alcohol run the risk of developing an addiction.
Although treating this combination of co-occurring disorders can be difficult, as relapse is a common occurrence with alcohol abuse disorders, it can be successful with evidence-based therapies designed to address both conditions.2
Opioid Drugs and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder affects nearly 7 percent of Americans. On its own, this condition can be debilitating and difficult to treat. However, if sufferers do not seek treatment and attempt to self-medicate, they are at risk of developing an addiction. Most commonly, people suffering from PTSD have turned to powerful opioids to dull their mental health symptoms and achieve relief through the high that drugs like heroin or prescription painkillers can deliver. Opioids stimulate the brain’s reward centers, and the sensation of feeling good or even euphoria can be especially addictive to someone who chronically feels anxious, fearful and depressed.
Cocaine and Anxiety
According to many drug experts, cocaine use may be just as fraught with risk for addiction development as it is for producing a psychiatric disorder. As a common co-occurring disorder, cocaine and anxiety tend to go hand in hand, sharing many symptoms. People who abuse cocaine are often more anxious, nervous and agitated. In time, abusing this drug chronically can cause other symptoms associated with anxiety disorders, like paranoia, suspiciousness, insomnia and even hallucinations.
Cocaine addiction and anxiety can both be effectively treated at an addiction treatment center. In some cases, anxiety will diminish with sobriety, but some people may need lifelong treatment if their anxiety condition is chronic.
Common co-occurring disorders can be effectively treated so that sufferers can achieve long-term recovery. Certainly, people can lead normal lives, but addiction cannot be cured and many mental health disorders require long-term management. With medications and therapies, common co-occurring disorders can be put into remission so that people can lead the lives they want to lead, free from the destructive forces of addiction and debilitating mental health symptoms.