What is A Co-Occurring Disorder?

When someone is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction and mental illness, this is what specialists call “co-occurring disorders.” Any combination of addiction and mental health disorders is a dual diagnosis. Some examples include alcoholism and depression, anorexia and cocaine addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and heroin dependence, anxiety, and prescription drug addiction, and more.

Although the symptoms of one disorder may have come before the other, both disorders will intensify each other, making it difficult to differentiate the symptoms caused by each disorder. For instance, people who use painkillers or heroin to combat depression caused by personality disorders realize quickly that this is an effective way of using.

In addition to depression symptoms, users will tend to struggle with the following:

  • Addiction
  • Drug cravings
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Increased mental health symptoms
  • More intensive mental health symptoms
  • Drug tolerance requiring higher doses for the same effects

When treating co-occurring disorders, rehab centers recommend that patients receive intensive medical and therapeutic therapy for both disorders simultaneously. Shortly after checking in, the patient will undergo the medical detox process. This process usually takes a week to thoroughly flush the body of all substances. Medical and treatment staff will be available 24/7 to help moderate withdrawal symptoms and administer medications if needed.

The detox process is a crucial step in recovery because only when the toxic substances are eliminated can the patient accurately start the dual diagnosis treatment process.

What is the Dual Diagnosis Treatment Process?

The most successful method for dual diagnosis is to integrate therapy programs that treat all aspects of the disorders at once. Addiction treatment counselors and mental health professionals will work together to provide exceptional care that incorporates everything involved with the diagnosis.

Some examples of the dual diagnosis treatment process includes:

  • Assessment of psychiatric health—This stage helps identify the patient’s disorders. To address the disorder, medication is usually prescribed, along with comprehensive psychiatric counseling.
  • Integration of addiction rehab- With the information learned from the psychological evaluation, counselors will work with the patient to address the source of their substance addiction. Due to complications caused by mental illness, this process is a more slow-moving pace than traditional rehab.
  • Treatment for the mind, body, and soul—Treatment programs that practice holistic therapies like yoga, massage therapy, meditation, and nutritional counseling can help patients find balance.
  • Behavioral modification therapy- Patients develop new methods for coping with their mental illness and learn how to evade triggers that cause a relapse. In this final stage of the dual diagnosis treatment, the patient will have mastered the tools required to succeed in the real world.
  • Relapse prevention education- Aftercare programs provide accountability and support structure for the patient. Leaving rehab can be confusing and scary at the beginning of a recovering addict who has a mental illness. The aftercare program shows support during this part of their journey while providing much-needed structure.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Treating dual diagnosis requires multiple therapeutic strategies. As part of the rehab program, patients might take part in:

  • Individual counseling therapy- Intensive therapy with a counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, will address both the addiction and psychiatric diagnosis. Because addiction and mental illness are profoundly related, patients must be treated for both conditions simultaneously.
  • Mutual support groups- The isolation of mental illness can worsen the symptoms of social anxiety or depression, making group therapy a vital part of Dual Diagnosis treatment. Meeting regularly with a support group helps members in restoring their trust in others and heightens their sense of competence.
  • Pharmacotherapy- Managing anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or schizophrenia symptoms usually requires pharmacological aid. Psychiatric medications are an essential part of addiction recovery for many patients in Dual Diagnosis treatment.
  • Couples counseling and family therapy- Addiction and mental illness affect more than just the one suffering. Children, spouses, and other loved ones should be active during recovery by attending group counseling sessions when needed.
  • Assistive services- People who struggle with depression, chronic anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder sometimes have difficulties getting through daily activities. Dual Diagnosis treatment programs offer services that include relationship counseling, vocational counseling, and nutritional counseling.

Residential treatment is often recommended for dual-diagnosis patients who require living in a supervised setting. Treatment must be long enough to reinforce the skills and strategies acquired during treatment. However, many patients become discharged before receiving the benefits of the entire rehabilitation program.

Common Mental Health Disorders

There are hundreds of different mental health disorders. Some of the more common mental illnesses that affect people across the nation include:

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a persistent mental illness that is identified by episodes of energetic, manic highs and extraordinarily high and low depression. This condition affects a sufferer’s energy level and ability to think. Bipolar disorder mood swings are more severe than the little ups and downs most people encounter daily.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are severe conditions that cause tenacious eating behaviors that negatively affect emotions, health, and the capability to function in everyday life. Common eating disorders include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is harsher than normal anxiety. It makes the sufferer extremely concerned about many things, even when they shouldn’t worry. Sometimes worrying can keep people with a generalized anxiety disorder from fulfilling everyday responsibilities and duties.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder causes people to have feelings of extreme sadness that last two weeks minimum. This condition is also referred to as clinical depression.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder is a continuous form of depression, also referred to as dysthymia. Although dysthymic depression isn’t intense, it can complicate daily life—people who suffer from this condition encounter symptoms for at least two years.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder causes persistent and constant thoughts, or obsessions. These thoughts happen with extreme desires to carry out particular compulsions or behaviors.

Personality Disorders

An environment, experiences, and inherited traits affect a person’s personality. A personality disorder affects people’s feelings, thinking, and behavior, which causes distress or difficulties functioning. Possible causes are early childhood trauma, like abuse, violence, neglect, and poor parenting. Evidence shows that genetic and neurological factors contribute to the growth of these disorders.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects many children and some adults. It impairs the brain’s growth and development. It may also negatively impact the central nervous system (CNS). This mental health disorder impacts people emotionally. It also affects the way people learn things and conduct themselves. ADHD can also affect one’es memory.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that occurs after experiencing a traumatic event. Experiences that create post-traumatic stress disorder range from extreme events, like national disasters and war, to physical or verbal abuse.


Schizophrenia impairs a sufferer’s comprehension of reality and the world that surrounds them. This mental health disorder is a severe condition that interferes with people’s connections to other people. Also, individuals may have delusions, experience hallucinations, and hear voices. Professional treatment is necessary for those who have schizophrenia.


Many times, individuals suffer from codependency and addiction. This combination could be life-altering as individuals who suffer from codependency cause interpersonal challenges and unhealthy relationships to develop. When addiction develops in these circumstances, the need for professional help only increases.

Treatment for Substance Addiction and Mental Health Problems

dual diagnosis treatment floridaThe best way to treat any co-occurring disorders is with an integrated approach, where both the mental health and substance abuse disorders are treated simultaneously. Whether your mental health or substance abuse problem happened first, a full recovery will depend on getting treatment for each disorder by the same treatment specialist.

Some treatment options include:

  • Mental health disorder treatment might consist of medication, lifestyle changes, group or individual counseling, and peer support.
  • Substance addiction treatment might include detoxification, managing withdrawal symptoms, support groups, and behavioral therapy, to help promote sobriety.

Dual diagnosis for co-occurring disorder treatment helps people to:

  • Think about the way that drugs or alcohol impacted your life. This should take place privately, free of any negative consequences or judgment. People must feel open to discussing these issues, knowing they are confidential and won’t create legal consequences.
  • Become educated on drugs and alcohol and how they are associated with mental illness and medication.
  • Become educated on drugs and alcohol and how they are associated with mental illness and medication.
  • Identify and progress towards personal recovery goals. If using drugs or alcohol is a problem, a dual diagnosis treatment counselor can help to work on particular recovery goals for both disorders.
  • Enlist therapy is specifically designed for patients receiving a dual diagnosis. This can take place in a setting with peers, individuals, family, or a combination of all three.

All treatment will begin with a medical detox to flush all substances from the body. This will help the patient focus on recovery with a clear mind and without the burden of experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Detox and Rehab

Once the drug and alcohol detox is completed, patients will then transfer to addiction rehab. It is crucial to understand that detox is not addiction treatment. Detox only treats the withdrawal symptoms caused by physical dependence, not psychological dependence.

To maintain sobriety, patients must also address their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that lead to the use of substance use through an addiction therapy program.

There are multiple different kinds of addiction recovery programs available, each differing in levels of intensity. Some rehab centers may process the detox and treatment in the same facility, while others may require detox and treatment in different buildings. It all depends on the specific application.

Regardless of the treatment program offered, drug and alcohol counseling is a vital component. Drug and alcohol counseling makes up the majority of the time patients spend in a rehab center. There are many particular varieties of therapy, but the primary types are group, individual, experiential, and family therapy.

Some common forms of addiction treatment programs include:

Residential treatment

Patients reside at the treatment facility for the entire residential treatment program, usually lasting 30 to 90 days and sometimes longer if needed. Services, amenities, and policies differ amongst inpatient treatment programs.

Outpatient treatment

Patients remain living at their homes while undergoing addiction treatment. This option is best for patients with a healthy household and must be home for work, school, or caring for a loved one.

Holistic treatment

Some inpatient programs will employ holistic therapy with mind-body-spirit recovery programs. Patients will practice alternative and complementary methods, like, yoga, meditation, and art therapy.

Luxury treatment

There are more expensive inpatient programs that provide patients with upscale amenities like gourmet meals, massage, and upscale activities.

Executive treatment

This form of inpatient program caters to working professionals to negatively impact their reputations or who cannot allow rehab to disrupt work. For executives who must continue working while addressing their addiction, executive treatment is a good option.

Faith-based treatment

Some inpatient programs will couple religious beliefs with traditional addiction treatment like individual and group counseling.

Community-specific treatment

Some rehab facilities have expertise in addressing the unique needs of particular communities, like LGBT, veterans, teens, men, and women.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Florida

If you or a loved one require dual diagnosis treatment in Florida, our specialists at Coastal Detox can help by answering the questions you seek. Do not hesitate any longer; contact us today.