Understanding Co-Occurring Disorders & Getting Your Loved One Help

Understanding Co-Occurring Disorders & Getting Your Loved One Help

No one wants to become addicted, yet millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse. Addiction is not a choice. It is a complex interaction between substances or behaviors and the individual person. If it were controllable, if it were a choice, recovery would be as simple as putting the drug or alcohol down and walking away. No friend or family member would be made to feel hopeless or helpless. Luckily you are not hopeless or helpless. You can take action for your loved one. You can take action for yourself and your family.


Understanding Addiction

You may wonder why you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse. Maybe your friends have used without problems. Maybe your parent, child or sibling has otherwise always been a responsible person. When a loved one struggles, when you struggle, not understanding addiction can create frustration. Don’t let this defeat you. You don’t have to know why you or someone you love is addicted before taking action. You just have to get help. You have to reach out to professional interventionists and addiction treatment professionals. Once you take the first step of speaking up, you can begin to ask questions and explore the why of addiction.

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Link to full infographic Dual Diagnosis


The “Why” of Addiction

Once you receive professional support, you learn more about addiction in general. You gain a better understanding of your loved one’s unique situation in particular. You learn about the relationship between mental health and substance use. Addiction has its roots in environment, genetics, individual personalities, brain chemistry and more. One of the most common, yet most often overlooked, of these reasons for addiction is a co-occurring mental health issue. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other concerns exacerbate substance abuse. Undiagnosed symptoms may cause individuals to self-medicate. Drug use can bring previously mild symptoms to the surface and cause them to worsen. It may also mask symptoms that would otherwise lead to a diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Unless your loved one receives treatment for all aspects of addiction, he or she is likely to relapse. Addiction specialists can help you and your family identify and address underlying issues and causes. They provide the basis for a complete and lasting recovery.


Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

Effective addiction treatment involves an accurate mental health diagnosis. This diagnosis may not be completed until a patient has finished medically supervised withdrawal services and begins some therapy. Mental health and addiction signs and symptoms often overlap. Drug use can create feelings of anxiety or mimic disorders such as bipolar disorder. Withdrawal often involves a sense of depression. Addiction plays with and manipulates emotions and feelings. It creates problems where there would otherwise be none. It also hides problems that do exist. The complex interactions between mental health, emotions and substance use cause issues to be overlooked. Mental health may take backstage to active drug use, yet it is a key component of this addiction and cannot be ignored. You and your loved one need to work with skilled, experienced professionals. Programs and treatment providers that do not have the knowledge, tools or interest in offering complete care do not offer long-term health or recovery.

So many people need the support of integrated services for complete recovery. Few people who need this extra help receive it. The reason for this is not a lack of care on the part of loved ones. You now know the importance of addressing mental health and addiction at once, so you know to look for the best, most complete treatment. A great place to start is with a professional interventionist or helpline coordinator. He or she can perform a preliminary assessment and help you choose the best, most compassionate and effective method of approaching your loved one. They help you begin the recovery process and take the next best step at every step. They connect you to integrated treatment options staffed by a team of mental health and addiction recovery specialists. You don’t have to understand everything about addiction, co-occurring disorders and recovery. Start at the beginning: Reach out.


Produced by Foundations Recovery Network







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