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3 Common Co-Occurring Disorders with Addiction

One of the most significant ways in which addiction treatment has improved came from the recognition that addiction rarely occurs in isolation. Rather, there is often one or more co-occurring disorder with addiction. This is a mental illness that may have caused the addiction or may have been caused by the addiction.

Lady Suffering from Co-Occurring Disorder

To be fair, most people suffering with a substance use disorder in the past could have told you this. They understood that their substance use did not come out of nowhere and that it wasn’t the only issue they had to solve. But for a long time, even the medical world did not take addiction seriously. They saw it as a lack of impulse control, rather than as a mental illness.

Today, any rehab that does not take a co-occurring or dual diagnosis approach should be avoided. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, here are 3 of the most common co-occurring disorders to look out for.

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

Anyone who has struggled with anxiety will understand why it might lead to substance use. Anxiety makes it difficult to relax. Thoughts run through your head – and they are not pleasant thoughts. They tell you everything that could go wrong, along with the assertion that everything will go wrong. Many people with anxiety struggle to turn off or to sleep as well.

Substances provide a quick fix for the problem. Alcohol in particular is often used by people with generalized anxiety disorder to quiet their minds. The problem is that this solution quickly wears off, leading the person to use more and more of the substance. Eventually, they find themselves far more anxious than they were before, using the substance to try and get back to where they were.

2. Eating Disorders:

Eating disorders are often linked to addiction. Symptoms of eating disorders resemble symptoms of substance use disorders, including secrecy, warped perception, and bingeing. Many people battling eating disorders become addicted to diet pills and other substances that suppress their appetite. They may also use stimulants, whether to try to get the energy they are not getting from nutrition, to make them more active so as to lose weight, or to suppress their appetite.

3. Bipolar Disorder:

Bipolar disorder is linked to substance use due to symptoms of both mania and depression. When a person is depressed, they may turn to substances to try and feel better temporarily. Substances like alcohol ultimately lead to further depression, while stimulants have difficult comedowns.

When struggling with mania, they may use substances to try to calm themselves down. They may use alcohol or sleeping pills to get to sleep or just to relax. They may become dependent on substances to get through work or social situations.

Every good rehab will help identify and treat co-occurring disorders. Because addiction rarely occurs in isolation, you should avoid institutions that try to treat it on its own.

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