Addiction is a disease that affects millions of individuals worldwide, but it often doesn’t arrive alone. More than half of all individuals seeking treatment for a substance use disorder are also affected by dual diagnosis or co-occurring concerns. Known as a dual diagnosis, these patients face unique challenges and obstacles in recovery. Co-occurring disorders play a significant role in addiction and patients with interwoven disorders require treatment that encompasses their physical, emotional and psychological needs to truly begin to heal.
Substance use and co-occurring disorders are closely linked. Individuals with co-occurring disorders will often self-medication with drugs or alcohol in an attempt to mask or alleviate their psychiatric symptoms. While this may provide temporary relief, their symptoms often worsen as addiction takes hold and begins to erode their overall quality of life. The cycle of addiction is chaotic and unstable, exacerbating existing co-occurring concerns and moving patients further away from a sense of wellness, stability and balance.
In addition to worsening existing psychiatric issues, drugs or alcohol may also trigger the onset of new or latent co-occurring conditions. Repeated exposure to illicit substances has detrimental effects on the brain, altering neurochemical balances that can lead to depression, anxiety, paranoia and more. Some of the most common co-occurring disorders include: