What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

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Enjoying a glass of chardonnay to unwind after a hard day at the office is one thing. Everything in moderation. But when a patient has a mental health issue like depression or bipolar disorder—and his or her struggles and pain seem increasingly complicated and daunting—what starts as self-medicating can become an addiction.

Two Diagnoses at Once

What is a co-occurring disorder? It often refers to the condition of a patient who has both a substance use disorder and a mental health issue at the same time.

Some of these combinations of disorders we see include:

  • Cocaine addiction with major depression
  • Alcoholism with panic disorder
  • Poly-drug addiction with schizophrenia
  • Poly-drug addiction with a borderline personality disorder

The Importance of a Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

There was a time when it was believed that if someone had a substance abuse problem, that issue had to be resolved first, and then subsequent treatment would deal with the mental health issues. This “first one, then the other” concept was not optimal for recovery success.

Thanks to the introduction and use of the idea of co-occurring disorders, specialized treatment programs were developed. Because mental health concerns and substance use go hand-in-hand, so does the treatment.

Successful co-occurring disorder programs are a culmination of integrated, holistic, and adaptable treatments. Strategies employed may include:

  • A therapeutic alliance between patient and professional
  • Maintaining a recovery perspective
  • Observing psychiatric symptoms
  • Using empathic counseling
  • Implementing patient-specific support
  • Increasing structure

Contact Summit Malibu

You have the ability to heal. You may need help to strengthen your skills and find the right tools for your recovery. The caring and dedicated staff at Summit Malibu are ready to help you win the fight against substance abuse and create a successful way of navigating your mental health concerns.

Contact us for more information about our programs and facilities, and get answers to your questions today.