Having a substance use disorder (SUD) can feel like you have no control over alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, many individuals who have SUD also struggle with co-occurring disorders. A co-occurring disorder is when an individual also struggles with a mental health disorder. Knowing whether or not you need dual diagnosis treatment requires knowing the signs to look out for and when to seek professional help. 

Warning Signs

If you feel like you may be struggling with co-occurring SUD and a mental health disorder, take time to observe your behavior. You can also talk to a loved one about changes they have noticed in your behavior. Is there anything different compared to before? Does it feel like juggling tasks that were easy before now seems like a challenge? If you or a loved one notices drastic changes in your behavior, it could be because you are struggling with symptoms of a mental health disorder. 

Other signs you may be struggling with a co-occurring disorder include a lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed. When this occurs, it may be because you are battling the symptoms of depression or your new hobbies involve substance abuse. You may also experience suicidal thoughts as well as act impulsively. Your hygiene and getting the right amount of food and sleep may take a back seat due to mental health symptoms and a priority for substance abuse. 

If you are struggling with symptoms of a co-occurring disorder, the best course of action is to seek treatment at a center for drug and alcohol treatment that also focuses on mental health disorders. Without treatment, symptoms of both disorders can worsen over time. 

Mental Health Disorders Involved With Co-Occurring Disorders

There are various mental health disorders that can co-occur with SUD, including:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Schizophrenia

While SUDs and mental health disorders commonly co-occur, it does not mean that one is caused by the other.

What is a dual diagnosis
What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

What is a dual diagnosis? It's a type of addiction treatment that's absolutely necessary for those with co-occurring mental illnesses.

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Family History

Mental health disorders and SUD can be passed on genetically. If a family member struggles with a mental health disorder or addiction, you have a higher chance of developing one or both conditions. Your experiences in childhood can also increase your likelihood of developing a mental health disorder or SUD. Commonly known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), experiencing a parent or caregiver struggle with their mental health and drug or alcohol use as a child can carry effects into adulthood. ACEs can put you at risk for developing a dual diagnosis. 

Intense Behavior When Attempting to Quit Drugs

Withdrawal is a set of symptoms you experience when attempting to quit using substances or drastically cut back on the amount of substances you are using. Symptoms will vary based on the substance being abused; however, common signs of withdrawal include: 

  • Shaking
  • Nausea 
  • Sweating
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

If you feel anxious and you think you need drugs to gain control of your life, this is a clear indication that you need help. Otherwise, your physical and mental health will be at risk. 

Dependency on Drugs to Feel Normal

Mental health symptoms can make you feel inferior to a lot of people. Such thoughts can interfere with your everyday life. As a result, many people who struggle with a mental health disorder turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms and feel “normal.” However, while you may think these drugs are bringing normalcy to your life, they only create problems.

Self-medication is a common problem for people with a dual diagnosis. Self-medication involves using drugs or alcohol to mask your mental health symptoms. You could use drugs or alcohol because they give you the energy to perform tasks better, numb emotional pain, or help you feel less anxious. However, you may not know that drugs and alcohol can increase your mental health symptoms and worsen your addiction. You might need to use more to achieve the desired effect; this is known as tolerance. Once you develop tolerance towards drugs or alcohol, you risk overdose.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Whether the mental health disorder came first or your addiction, the important thing is that you take action to treat both disorders. It helps to find drug and alcohol inpatient treatment centers that also support mental health treatment. This will guarantee you the quality care you need for a successful treatment journey. Make sure the inpatient rehab offers appropriate resources to treat your substance abuse and mental health issues. Rehab can provide you with a number of tools to treat your co-occurring disorder, such as individualized or group therapy sessions, medications, and activities to cope with life’s challenges. 

Co-occurring disorders can be challenging when you are battling substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. All drugs and alcohol do are make your mental health symptoms worse. However, the right course of treatment can make a difference in your recovery. Hawaii Island Recovery is among the leading rehabs in Hawaii. We understand the struggles people have with co-occurring disorders and believe in finding the proper treatment to meet their individual needs. Our programs include individual, group, and 12-Step therapy. We also provide experiential programming, including nature-based and ocean-based therapy. Located in Kailua, Hawaii, we incorporate our beautiful surroundings into our treatment. Our goal is to provide you with the best care to get you on the track to lasting recovery. We are with you every step of the way. If you are struggling with a co-occurring disorder, get help now. For additional information on our treatment programs and facilities, call Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5070