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Why Co-Occurring Disorders Are Common in Those with Addiction

a person with co-occurring disorders and addiction looks out of a window in a dark room

In a recent report, nearly eight million adults in the U.S. had co-occurring disorders and addiction. The reasons that people abuse substances can often be attributed to emotional reasons. Substances can numb the pain from events in life that haven’t been dealt with.

At Northpoint Recovery, we are dedicated to providing treatment for co-occurring disorders. Our detox and inpatient addiction treatment programs are designed to address mental health disorders and substance use problems. We understand that addiction is a disease and that it can be treated with proper care and support. Learn more today by calling 888.296.8976.

What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

A co-occurring disorder can be defined by two disorders such as:

  • Alcoholism and depression
  • Cocaine addiction and anorexia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder and heroin use

Studies show that people with mental health disorders are more likely to have a substance use disorder. The conditions feed off one another, exacerbating one another, making it difficult to pinpoint the separate symptoms. For people struggling with substance use, it seems there is a perfect drug that can ease their suffering from mental health disorders. Co-occurring disorders and addiction are so common because substance abuse can seem to ease symptoms. In the end, however, drug or alcohol use makes mental health disorders worse.

The Co-Occurring Disorders and Substance Abuse Link

A recent study found that 44% of psychiatric patients also had an alcohol disorder—64% of patients with drug use disorders. Mental disorders are more common in people that have been abusing substances for a longer period. There is a definitive connection between mental health disorders and addiction. The following was found in another study of mental health disorder patients:

  • 38% consume alcohol
  • 44% consume cocaine
  • 40% smoke cigarettes

The Causes of Co-Occurring Disorders and Addiction

A few reasons people become addicted to substances, most of which will stem from a deeply emotional issue. When a person has a mental health disorder, they have come to a point where life does not seem manageable. They may be given drugs, like heavy sedatives or mood-altering medication, to function through daily life. These medications come with side effects that can make the person feel better—even euphoric.

Others who have suffered from trauma have a hard time coping with life. They often can’t handle the memories, feelings, or emotional pain. They may use substances to self-medicate to numb themselves from suffering, depression, and angst. Drugs and alcohol seem to help soothe the pain, so the person with a mental health disorder doesn’t have to deal with their emotions. They may spend their life trying to ensure they never have to.

Some common mental health conditions that lead to substance use include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depressive disorder

Does Addiction Lead to Co-occurring Disorder?

The symptoms of co-occurring disorders trigger one another. Someone’s path in life will define which condition arises first. They may have experienced trauma that caused addiction. Alternatively, addiction may cause a mental health disorder. Everyone’s experience is different when it comes to addiction and mental illness.

Heroin can cause depression in someone who hasn’t been depressed prior. Someone who is anxious may become addicted to cocaine. The chances of becoming addicted when you have a mental health disorder are greater. The possibilities are also higher for someone with a mental health disorder to become addicted to a substance. As the two feed off each other, it’s common for someone suffering from one disorder to experience the other.

Co-Occurring Disorder and Addiction Treatment at Northpoint Recovery

At Northpoint Recovery in Boise, Idaho, we understand the unique difficulty of co-occurring disorders and addiction. We have developed a comprehensive program to help those suffering from both conditions. Our team of experts provides individualized treatment plans to meet each patient’s specific needs.

Learn more and get started today by contacting us online or by calling 888.296.8976.