Last Updated on May 22, 2017 by Morris Green
When a person has a co-existing mental illness and a substance use disorder, it’s referred to as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder (COD). It’s extremely common for recovering addicts to receive this diagnosis. In this blog, we’re going to discuss the top three co-occurring conditions of addiction and how to best approach them.
#1: Major Depression
Often associated with cocaine addiction, major depression can strike almost anyone recovering from addiction. Their drug or drink of choice supplied pleasure. Once removed, whether by tapering down or going cold turkey, it’s common to experience a sense of deep sadness. But depression isn’t just a co-existing condition associated with recovery. It can be present during an episode of consistent use.
According to DualDiagnosis.org, substance abuse is common among people who battle depressive disorders. While some reach for drugs or alcohol as a way to numb their blues, depression can develop during substance abuse because of the manner in which addictive substances impact the brain.
The first step in treating depression is the diagnosis. The second step is treatment. It’s important to work closely with the medical professionals at your disposal to arrive at a plan that works for you.
#2: Panic Disorder
Alcohol addiction is associated with severe anxiety or panic disorder. You can experience a panic attack while drinking or during a hangover. In most cases, panic disorders develop in people who already have anxiety.
Did you know anxiety is one of the most underdiagnosed and undertreated mental health issues in the world? It’s estimated that millions go undiagnosed due to the stigma surrounding mental illness coupled with rising health care costs. Most people simply cannot afford to address their anxiety at a medical level adequately. For many, alcohol and even drugs become an affordable “solution.”
Alcohol itself is not responsible for the development of a panic disorder, but it can play a large role in exasperating it. The best treatment is to stop using alcohol and focus on a viable solutions to stress management and emotional health.
Alcoholism and poly-substance use have been linked to schizophrenia. It’s important to understand that use of an addictive substance alone is not a definitive cause of the illness. Genetic vulnerability, psychosocial factors, and neurobiological aspects also have an impact.
Addictive substances can, however, destabilize the brain’s cognitive routine. As a result, severe mental illnesses can surface during and after addiction. Personal and multiple personality disorders are also likely co-occurring conditions that addicts and recovering addicts may find themselves facing.
As scary as it may feel, seeking psychological help is the best choice. Qualified medical help can assist you in diagnosing and treating any mental condition that may accompany substance use or recovery.
Don’t Ignore It
Perhaps the best advice we can give is to face any co-occurring condition head on. Ignoring it will only lead to further mental deterioration, and it can also pave the way to partial or total relapse. And relapse is one of the leading causes of injury and death among recovering addicts.