“Co-occurring disorders” or “dual diagnosis” refers to a person who suffers from both an addiction problem and an unrelated mental disorder simultaneously—an alcoholic with depression, or a person addicted to methamphetamine who also has PTSD. There are hundreds of combinations of drugs and mental disorders, and each varies widely in its effects and symptoms. People with mental disorders are more likely to abuse substances, just as people who abuse substances are likely to develop mental health issues. The two conditions play off one another. Each condition acts to worsen the other, and vastly increases the risks associated with drug abuse—death by overdose, accidental poisoning, or suicide. It’s vital that you or a loved one seek immediate treatment if you have co-occurring disorders. Simply call NC Drug Rehab Charlotte at (704) 961-9577 for more information.
There are no pat answers when it comes to the correlation between mental health and addiction, but connections have been established by psychiatric research. SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) estimates that, of the nearly 18 million Americans who suffered from a serious mental disorder within the past year, approximately four million also have reported addiction issues. As much as 16% of rehab patients claim a dual diagnosis. Around 45% of this fraction abuse alcohol, and 21% abuse prescription painkillers.
Addiction and Eating Disorders
Scientific evidence indicates a link between substance abuse disorders and eating problems. Eating delicious foods and taking drugs both stimulate similar areas of the brain—specifically, the pleasure center. The rush of dopamine, or pleasure chemicals, which substances and food trigger conditions the brain to become addicted to food and/or substances. People who have addiction problems are often genetically preconditioned to be impulsive, anxious, and obsessive. The National Eating Disorders Foundation recently reported that 50% of people with eating disorders also have a substance abuse problem. Both disorders spring from the same lack of control. Eating disorders also share a connection with amphetamines and methamphetamine, as they are sometimes used as appetite suppressants.
Depression and Narcotics
Protracted use of opioid painkillers has been shown to vastly increase one’s chances of depression. People who use opioid drugs for three months or longer stand a 25% better chance of becoming depressed, says the Journal of General Internal Medicine. At six months, those chances increase to more than 50%. Depression then leads to an increased risk of developing secondary addictions, as people who are depressed will do anything to escape their sorrows. Self-medication and its dangers are common in many instances of addictions with co-occurring disorders.
How We Treat Co-Occurring Disorders
The first step of the process is for the trained medical professionals at the rehab center to identify which disorders the patient had before they became addicted, and which disorders were directly related to their substance abuse. It’s not always easy to draw these correlations, but doctors must make the attempt anyway. The better informed physicians and therapists are about the mental disorders afflicting a patient, the better care they can give that patient. If and when the doctors pick a mental disorder and name it the primary contributor to the addiction, a primary care plan can then be constructed. There is also sequential treatment, wherein secondary addictions and disorders are treated after the primary disorder has been dealt with. At NC Drug Rehab Charlotte‘s rehab centers, parallel treatment is available—both the addiction and the co-occurring disorder(s) may be treated simultaneously by qualified medical staff and psychotherapists. In this type of treatment, all disorders are addressed equally and simultaneously under a single holistic and comprehensive recovery regimen.