Co-Occurring Disorders Defined

Sometimes referred to as dual diagnosis or dual disorder, co-occurring disorders are diagnosed when there is a mental health and substance use disorder present. This might mean the individual is struggling with alcohol abuse as well as depression, for example.

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

People from all walks of life are affected by mental health disorders. Often times an individual will self-medicate, leading them to substance dependencies and addictions. However, the term co-occurring disorder is meant to indicate that the individual has been diagnosed with a disorder of each type independent from each other.

According to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) (PDF | 3.4 MB) an estimated 43.6 million (18.1%) Americans ages 18 and up experienced some form of mental illness. In the past year, 20.2 million adults (8.4%) had a substance use disorder. Of these, 7.9 million people had both a mental disorder and substance use disorder, also known as co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.

What Causes Co-Occurring Disorders?

Often times mental health and substance abuse disorders are a result of environmental or biological factors. Genetics, life experience, trauma and pharmaceutical history all can influence an individual’s susceptibility as well. People who have a mental health disorder are more likely to become dependent on drugs or alcohol than people without one.

Types of Co-Occurring Disorder

The most common mental health disorders that are often present with drug or alcohol addiction are depressive disorders, anxiety disorders to include PTSD, and bi-polar disorder. Through careful and concise individual therapy, we can better understand the root cause of the mental health condition and substance addiction, ascertain which came about first, and how to treat each individually for a positive outcome.

What Are the Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders

Another facet to co-occurring disorders is that much of the behaviors in mental illness and drug and alcohol dependency present similar symptoms. For example, heightened anxiety in a person can be caused by an episode of PTSD or CTSD but it can also indicate cocaine or benzodiazepine abuse.

Depending on the substance or mental illness, the following can illustrate symptoms of each:

  • Increased preference for isolation
  • Sudden behavioral changes
  • Risky behaviors
  • Violent outbursts, suicidal tendencies
  • Feeling like you need a drug to be able to function

Age-Related Mental Illness

With the increasing incidence of young adult stress, marijuana use in adolescents and teens, and America’s addiction to screens, young adults are exhibiting many of the signs of depression, anxiety, and bi-polar disorders. In addition, numerous research studies are shedding light on long-term marijuana use in those under the age of 18 and the development of psychotic behaviors. There are also points throughout human development that engage a natural shift in hormone levels that can help set the stage for schizophrenia in young adults (17-27 years), or post-partum depression after childbirth, as well as depression and anxiety onsets during menopause.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Integrated care is recommended for individuals who are seeking treatment for a co-occurring disorder. An integrative treatment program provides the individual with medical and therapeutic care to help the client physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, heal.

Integrative Care for Dual Diagnosis Includes:

  • Medical Detox
  • A Mental Health Evaluation
  • Diagnosis
  • Personalized Treatment Plan
  • Private Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • An Aftercare Plan
  • On-going Aftercare and Support

Traditionally, integrative mental health and addiction treatment would be provided in a residential or in-patient setting. However, as addiction rates continue to climb, traditional treatment is evolving to accommodate the changing needs of the public. Today, with the development of both new evidence-based treatments and new medications, all stages of addiction care can be provided in an outpatient setting.

Here at Fifth Avenue Psychiatry, we believe an addiction-trained psychiatrist is the optimal professional to treat co-occurring disorders. Our treatment plan is completely personalized to meet the individual’s specific needs. Our services provide our clients with the highest level of care in a private, confidential psychotherapy office.

Private Dual Diagnosis Treatment in NYC

Are you interested in learning more about our approach to dual diagnosis and our private outpatient treatment, offered in our discreet Manhattan offices? We invite you to schedule a call with one of our doctors to discuss your specific needs. All initial consultation calls are completely confidential and free. We will help you understand if Fifth Avenue Psychiatry and our services are the right fit for you.

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