In today’s society, it can be hard to talk about the very raw, very real personal experiences that occur around mental health and substance use. Many people fear the stigma associated with these issues. They don’t want to be seen as “crazy” or “bad” or “weak.”
People who are struggling with mental health conditions or substance use disorders (SUDs) are often led to believe or convince themselves that’s just how their life is supposed to play out. They either don’t have a problem, or there is nothing that can be done. On the contrary, co-occurring disorders are treatable – and the sooner you seek help, the better.
What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder?
A co-occurring disorder is when a person has both a SUD and a mental illness simultaneously. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 8 million adults over the age of 18 had both a SUD and a mental illness in the past year. In fact, it is estimated that over half of the people who seek treatment for addiction also have some sort of mental health condition.
Unfortunately, both SUDs and mental illness tend to exacerbate one another. In some cases, one disorder may encourage the emergence of another. For example, a person who has an alcohol use disorder may experience feelings of hopelessness that lead to depression and then have an even stronger urge to drink when they are sad. A person with chronic anxiety who uses illicit drugs to quiet their thoughts and manage their fears can quickly develop a SUD.
Because of these symptoms that feed off one another, people who have a co-occurring disorder are more likely to:
- Experience physical health and safety risks
- Experience greater difficulties with life skills
- Have a harder time successfully completing treatment
This is why support for people with co-occurring disorders – and treatment programs that specifically address their unique needs – are both so critical.
What Comes Next
The answer is relatively simple – seek help for yourself or your loved one.
Friends and family are often the first to notice symptoms of co-occurring disorders, yet many people don’t know how to properly address these issues or how to help that person seek treatment. It’s often an unknown territory when co-occurring disorders exist, yet the problem will likely escalate until that individual has received help.
The problem is that when help isn’t sought, a person is more likely to:
- Cause harm to themselves or others
- Make risky decisions
- Get involved in criminal activity
If left untreated, the risks for danger are heightened – meaning that any signs of substance abuse or mental illness should be taken very seriously.
If you’re ready to seek help, speak with a professional from Alta Loma today.
At Alta Loma, our commitment to patients with co-occurring disorders is what sets us apart. The link between mental health and addiction is well-known and we understand the importance of treating both issues simultaneously. Let us help you or your loved one. Call us today at (866) 457-3843.