Renaissance Ranch

What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

Aug 8, 2021

A co-occurring disorder is also known as a dual diagnosis and is a comorbidity between mental health disorders and addiction. Having an underlying mental health condition in addition to the addiction is not uncommon. Treatment of both disorders is necessary when entering recovery. 

According to a study titled “Integrated Treatment of Substance Use and Psychiatric Disorders,” treatment targeted at both issues results in the best recovery outcomes. Whether the co-occurring disorder is depression, anxiety, bipolar, or any other type of mental health diagnosis, treatment needs to be targeted at both issues to promote recovery and prevent relapse. 

Why Treat Both at the Same Time?

Addiction can often result from an underlying mental health problem, which is exacerbated by the addiction, which then worsens the symptoms of a mental health diagnosis. The cycle of addiction and worsening mental health continues as a person uses more drugs or alcohol. In order to successfully treat the addiction, the underlying mental health component must also be treated.

Being sober is not just about not using but also about coping with your unique biochemical make-up that possibly prompted the misuse of substances and led to addiction in the beginning. It is possible that you used substances to relieve the symptoms of a mental health condition and continued to use them due to that continued desire for relief. 

The first step to recovery is to stop using. From there, you can begin the healing process from addiction and the healing and control of other disorders that make you more vulnerable to the use of alcohol or other substances. 

3 Things to Expect in Treatment

In the past, it was not uncommon for doctors to believe they were only able to treat mental health disorders once sobriety was achieved. Now, it is understood that both issues have to be addressed at the same time for effective treatment. While treatment is never a one-size-fits-all experience, there are many modalities that are often used to treat co-occurring disorders. The following is a list of a few things incorporated in treatment and a description of what to expect:

#1. The Detox Process 

Getting substances out of your system is recommended for the beginning stages of recovery. Detox of some substances needs to be done in an inpatient setting where staff can monitor you and help you withdrawal safely. Withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, but afterward, you can start focusing on the hard stuff, including the primary substance of treatment: understanding your triggers and learning how to live life without substances. Getting through the detox process will help you live life fully and with more joy.

#2. Therapy Sessions

Therapy is part of a process that will help you understand your addiction and mental health disorder and help you overcome them. One benefit of therapy is its focus on you as a whole, not just on you and your dual diagnoses. You are much more than a diagnosis, and therapy will help you to realize that. There are many types of therapy, and deciding on your course of therapy is up to you. Your treatment team will help you develop a plan that is ideal for you and your needs.

#3. Inpatient/Residential Stays

Time is sometimes needed in a treatment setting to help you become aware of your triggers and provides you with an opportunity to understand your triggers without being surrounded by your stressors. Time in a healing location allows you to learn how to deal with triggers and develop the confidence you need to face the world and the stressors that are a part of your life at home. Staying in a residential treatment facility also allows you to work with staff to ensure that your mental health disorder is also being treated and managed effectively.

Detox, therapy, and inpatient or residential stays are just a few ways that co-occurring disorders are treated. The important thing to remember is that treatment does not occur in just the treatment phase but will be life-long. Treating underlying mental health disorders might require medication or other forms of treatment to help you stay in recovery long-term. You want life to be full of joy, and this will require continued work beyond detox, therapy, and residential treatment.

An Important Thing to Remember

Having a co-occurring disorder is not uncommon. You may have been treating your mental health issue(s) by drinking or using substances. While this is called self-medicating by some, it indicates that you understood that things were not perfect and were doing the best you could to take care of yourself. 

Understanding that you did not set out to keep drinking or using might give you the courage to take one more step towards self-care and reach out for help to overcome your addiction. Your co-occurring disorder can be treated, and you can find complete healing. 

Having co-occurring disorders is not uncommon, and finding healing from your addiction and co-occurring mental health disorder can be one of the most challenging things to undertake. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Finding treatment can be difficult, but you can be surrounded by people who care and want to see you achieve complete healing. Being in a supportive and faith-minded place can help you get there. Renaissance Ranch offers this support. At Renaissance Ranch, we use a clinically-driven approach to treatment in a male-gender-specific setting. We allow for men to focus on themselves and healing using gospel principles and the 12-Steps. Take the first step toward healing from your addiction and co-occurring disorders. Recognize that you have done your best and take a step toward complete healing with the help you deserve. Call Renaissance Ranch today at (801) 308-8898 and begin the process of healing.