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Co-Occurring Disorders

Also known as dual diagnosis, a co-occurring disorder is when a person who struggles with addiction also has a mental health condition such as anxiety, depressive or bipolar disorders. It may seem hard to imagine, but this is a common phenomenon. In fact, there can be the presence of more than one addiction or more than one mental illness that exists concurrently in an individual.

Without a professional medical assessment from a licensed, behavioral health practitioner who can identify the co-occurring disorders, their root cause, and creating the right treatment program, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health wellness.

Knowing the Difference in Substance Addiction and Mental Illness

To the layperson, it’s difficult and near impossible to distinguish from a person exhibiting symptoms of mental illness, drug abuse, alcohol addiction, or dual diagnosis – because the signs can be, all or in part, similar.

Signs of Mental Illness

  • A family history of mental illness
  • Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or worthlessness
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Compulsivity in actions or thoughts to reduce anxiety
  • Dramatic shifts in energy
  • Mood swings that create an inability to functional normally
  • Reckless behavior, excessive outbursts of anger, violent tendencies

After reading through the above list, you might wonder if you or the one you care about has a mental health disorder, and not a drug or alcohol addiction. We urge you to read below to understand the potential for confusion, and why seeking the advice and professional opinion of an addiction treatment professional who understands co-occurring disorder treatment is critical.

Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis

Review the list of characteristics and behaviors that mimic mental illness, as well as substance addiction.

You may have a co-occurring disorder because:

  • There were already indications of depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety
  • When you try to stop using drugs and alcohol, the depression and anxiety just gets worse
  • You have social anxiety and don’t want to be around anyone, or
  • Social circles have drastically changed in a short amount of time
  • Feelings of extreme happiness or energy can quickly turn to darkness and depression
  • Use of drugs or alcohol help mask other symptoms
  • Stopping the use of addictive substances is impossible, causing depression
  • No matter what, concentrating on anything is difficult
  • Panic attacks continue to happen for no reason
  • Uncontrollable behavior, ruminating thoughts and unreasonable responses to normal behavior from others
  • Mental health conditions are present in some family members

Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado treats these conditions

Continuum Recovery Center focuses on treating both chemical dependencies and secondary mental health disorders. When both are exhibited in a client, we focus on the specific needs of each individual to develop a custom program, specifically tailored to that person. It begins with a detailed medical assessment. Once the underlying issue is addressed, we can help treat the specific chemical dependency issue.

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