How to Handle the Co-Occurring Problem of Mental Health Disorders and Substance Abuse Problem

The awareness and acceptance of mental health disorders has been steadily increasing in recent years. Strangely, there is also a dramatic increase in the substance abuse and drug addictions. 

It is interesting that researchers find a close relationship between substance abuse (or use of drugs) and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. They also recognize that while some substance abuse can cause prolonged psychotic reactions, one does not directly cause the other.

This complex relation makes it hard to diagnose a substance abuse problem and a co-occurring mental health disorder. It really requires time to sort out which aspect of the symptoms seen in a patient is due to mental disorder and which could be as a result of what might be a drug or alcohol problem. The signs and symptoms also vary depending upon both the mental health problem and the type of drug being abused.

According to experts, people with mental problems might also have addiction problems is because the use of alcohol and drugs see to help some of them think they are more accepted and feel like there is no mental health issue. For others, the drugs or alcohol is a way to control anxiety, depression, sleep problems, stress and the negative effects of medication.

To treat the co-occurring disorders the best approach is an integrated one that simultaneously address both the mental health and substance abuse problems. Whichever problem manifested first, the sustainable recovery depends on treating both the issues by the same team of professionals. 

The next question is what is involved in the treatment? It varies, depending on the specific problem. For example:

Treatment for mental health issues could involve individual or group counseling, medication, lifestyle changes, and support groups.

On the other hand, treatment for drug and alcohol abuse could involve managing of withdrawal symptoms, detoxification, behavioral therapy, and support groups to monitor and maintain the recovery.

Finding a suitable treatment facility for the co-occurring conditions:

There are a number of options for treatment programs you can consider. It will help to ask some important questions and find out more about each of the options before making this important decision. Some points to consider are: 

Check if the treatment centre has the appropriate licenses and accreditations

Check if the methods used for treatment are based on research

Ask what options are available for continued care to avoid or reduce the chances of relapse. 

Make sure the facility or rehab centre has the experience dealing with the specific mental health issues that need attentions. 

Check if the program teaches healthy coping skills and strategies to minimize substance abuse, strengthen relationships, and cope with stressors and challenges of life.

Further information can be found at: 

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