3 Common Co-Occurring Disorders

3 Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Previously referred to as dual diagnosis disorders, the term “co-occurring disorder” is the simultaneous existence of mental health disorder (such as major depression) and substance abuse disorder (such as alcohol addiction).  

Due to varying symptoms of both kinds of disorders, it is quite difficult to diagnose co-occurring disorders. In many instances, this results in one disorder being addressed, while the other remains untreated.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that around 50 percent of people with any kind of mental health disorder are also affected by substance abuse.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Let’s delve deeper into the issue and take a look at some disorders that consistently occur together:

Alcoholism and Depression

Depression is a common mood disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and acts. Its prevalence in the United States is around 9.5%. Some of its major symptoms include fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness and loss of interest in activities.

The link between alcoholism and depression is quite strong. According to WebMD, around one-third of people having major depression also have issues with alcoholism. The same resource also points out that kids who are depressed tend to have problems with alcoholism later in life. Moreover, teens who had major depressive episodes are two times more likely to drink than teens who hadn’t had those episodes.

Marijuana Addiction and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are quite common in the United States. According to National Institute of Mental Health, around 18% of US adults struggle with anxiety and out of these people, about 23% have been diagnosed as ‘severe’ cases. Some of the symptoms of anxiety include restlessness, irritability, and sleep problems among others.

After alcohol and nicotine, marijuana is the most used illicit drug in the United States. Its link with anxiety disorders has been studied widely studied. A meta-analysis carried out by Karina Karolina Kedzior and Lisa Tabata Laeber (2014) found a positive association between anxiety and cannabis use. Their paper also stated that the two countries with the highest ratesofanxiety disorders – USA and New Zealand – had the highest incidence of cannabis use.

Opioid Addiction and PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a combination of symptoms that an individual manifests afterexperiencing a life threatening event. Some of these symptoms include hyper arousal, state of constant tension, avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event, flashbacks and nightmares related to the event.

According to a study published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, it was found that prescription opioid use was significantly associated with symptoms of PTSD.The researchers, however, pointed out that further studies must be carried out to confirm these findings.

Understanding the deeper aspects behind co-occurring disorders, Mental Health Resources offers an integratedintensive outpatient program that addresses both the underlying mental health issues as well as the addiction.For over 20 years, they have provided integrated dual diagnosis disorder treatmentin Memphis, TN.

Lisa Scholfield

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