Co-Occurring Diagnosis: Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Co-Occurring Diagnosis: Substance Abuse and Mental Health

This section explains how drugs and alcohol can negatively impact your mental health. In this post, "drugs" refers to recreational or prescription drugs. A person with a mental illness who also uncontrollably uses drugs is said to have a 'dual diagnosis or a 'co-occurring diagnosis,' according to medical professionals.

What Is Substance Abuse?

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a mental illness that affects a person's brain and behavior, resulting in an inability to control the use of substances such as legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications. With symptoms ranging from mild to severe, addiction is the most severe form of SUDs.

Individuals who suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD) may also have a co-occurring mental disorder and vice versa. Depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), personality disorders, and schizophrenia are all examples of co-occurring disorders.

Do you have co-occurring disorders? Discover how to deal with addiction while dealing with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.

Substance Abuse Or Mental Health Problems: Which Comes First?

Mental health problems and drug addiction have unusual symptoms in co-occurring disorders, which may interfere with your ability to maintain a stable family life, function at work or school, deal with life's difficulties, and connect to others. Substance use and mental health disorders are frequently linked—one may cause the other, or both may occur together. The substance abuse problem usually worsens when a mental health issue is left untreated. And when there is an increase in drug abuse, there is usually an increase in mental health problems.

Identifying A Dual Diagnosis

It can be challenging to distinguish between two diagnoses. It takes time to separate what is a mental health disorder from what is a drug problem. The signs and symptoms also differ depending on the abused substance, whether recreational drugs or prescription medications. There are, however, some general indicators that you may have a co-occurring disorder, such as:

  • Someone in your family had a mental illness or was addicted to drugs.

  • Even if you are sober, you feel depressed, anxious, or otherwise out of sorts.

  • You use drugs to cope with unpleasant memories or feelings, to manage pain or the intensity of your moods, to face frightening situations, or to stay focused on tasks.

  • You discovered a link between your substance abuse and your mental health. For example, you become depressed when you drink. Or you drink when you are anxious or haunted by unpleasant memories.

Common risk factors can worsen both SUDs and other mental disorders. SUDs and other mental illnesses can run in families, implying that specific genes may be involved.

Symptoms And Signs Of Typical Co-Occurring Disorders

Depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems that co-occur with substance abuse.

Treatment For a Dual Diagnosis

Treating SUD and co-occurring mental disorders together is preferable to treating them separately. As a result, a healthcare provider must evaluate individuals seeking treatment for SUD or other mental disorders for each disorder. Because overlapping symptoms can make it challenging to make an accurate diagnosis, the provider should use comprehensive assessment tools to reduce the possibility of a missed diagnosis and provide targeted treatment.

Treatment for your mental health issue may include medication, lifestyle changes, peer support, and individual or group counseling. At the same time, treatment for your substance abuse may include detoxification, withdrawal symptoms management, behavioral therapy, and support groups.

The Bottom Line!

Behavioral therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and peer support groups may all be part of your treatment plan, but selecting the strategy best meets your needs is critical. There is always a chance. Both mental disorders and problems with drugs are treatable conditions. Recovering from co-occurring disorders takes time, courage, and commitment, but people with these problems can still get better.

We're here to assist you!

Mosaic Mental Health in Katy, Texas, can provide you with professional assistance. We, are a licensed Mental Health Service Provider, can recommend medications along with referrals to facilities specializing SUD programs to assist you in better understanding and managing your or your loved one's struggles.

We offer medication management to treat mood disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, and thought disorders. We accept patients 18 and up. Please call (713) 987-7828 for more information or visit For added convenience and accessible communication, we also use the Spruce Health app to allow clients to stay in touch and securely contact the provider and staff via text, phone, and email.

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