Why Do Co-occurring Disorders Have to Be Treated Simultaneously?

According to the new study by Detox.com, 8.2 million people in the United States were suffering from dual diagnosis or both a disorder associated with mental health and addictions in 2016. This is a serious problem that has been on the rise in recent years (up 3.7 percent from 2014), and treatment requires simultaneous care for both issues. Many people wonder, though, why disorders like depression, PTSD, and schizophrenia need to be treated concurrently with addiction when they occur together.

One of the first reasons these issues must be treated together is because those who only receive help for one often experience relapse because of the untreated issue. This can even happen if you treat one problem before the other. Think about it: even if you recover from addiction, if your mental health problems continue, it could lead you back to drug abuse. This is also why co-occurring disorders must be addressed simultaneously.

Those who experience addiction and mental illnesses in their lives often do so because one at least partly led to the other. Maybe they used drugs to try and mask the symptoms of their mental illness, or maybe their anxiety disorder, depression, or even schizophrenia was partly caused by their substance abuse. Certain drugs can cause intense side effects, some of which can even become full-blown mental illnesses. As a result, these issues are extremely intertwined, meaning treatment should be the same.

Another reason these issues must be addressed simultaneously is that one cannot be solved without delving into the other. You cannot begin to understand your mental illness if you don’t unpack the reasons why you started using drugs, and you cannot put an end to your drug abuse if you don’t consider the way these substances made you feel. For some, both issues occurred around the same time to the point where they are unsure which came first. For this reason, recovery programs must offer help for both.

Finally, treatment must be concurrent for both illnesses so people suffering from dual diagnosis will not slip through the cracks. A person can go through rehab and think they are doing well. They may even get sober. However, if their other issues are not found and addressed, their recovery will not hold, and their recovery will be unstable.

You may be thinking that you won’t be able to afford treatment for both disorders or that you don’t even know if you are suffering from dual diagnosis. The best solution is to seek help in a mental health or rehab center, one that specializes in this issue. The doctors at the facility will be able to ask you a few questions to determine if you are dealing with a dual diagnosis. Also, many of these facilities cost the same as regular rehab and detox centers, which means some program also offer low-cost help, sliding-fee scales, or other options for those concerned about paying for care. Never let your fears, financial burdens, or other issues get in the way of seeking out the best treatment for your safe recovery.