Addiction recovery is challenging, and co-occurring disorders bring even more obstacles to the table. Anxiety, depression, and panic are common conditions that are diagnosed alongside addiction. When they are present, you must address and treat these issues with addiction. The signs of co-occurring disorders can be subtle, but a professional can help provide more insight.
If you think someone you love may struggle with substance use disorder complicated by a second condition, contact Red Oak Recovery® in North Carolina for help by calling 828.382.9699. Our co-occurring disorders treatment program can provide safety and support.
What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder?
A co-occurring disorder, also known as a dual diagnosis or comorbidity, refers to the presence of both a substance use disorder and another mental health condition at the same time. This can include disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others.
3 Signs of Co-Occurring Disorders
1. Sudden Changes in Behavior
The effects of drugs and alcohol interact with the brain and can bring about drastic behavioral changes. These changes can show up as:
- Mood swings
If you notice this happening to yourself or someone close to you, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can help diagnose co-occurring disorders and develop a treatment plan that addresses both addiction and any underlying mental health.
2. Wanting to Spend Time Alone
Those who suffer from co-occurring disorders often want to spend as much time away from other people as possible. Some mental health conditions, like depression or PTSD, inherently cause feelings of isolation. Adding substance abuse to the mix can make these feelings even worse. It is essential to recognize this behavior and work toward building a support system that encourages healthy social interactions.
3. Not Realizing Drug or Alcohol Intake
People living with co-occurring disorders often lose control when it comes to the dosage of substances they use. This can lead to significant health problems—including a worsening addiction. Those living with co-occurring disorders may feel powerless to stop using drugs or alcohol, even when they want to. This is why it is crucial to seek professional help in managing both addiction and any underlying mental health conditions.
Other Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders
Additional signs of co-occurring disorders may not be as apparent and may include physical symptoms such as:
Taking Risks Without Thinking About Consequences
Reckless behavior—such as reckless driving or participating in dangerous activities under the influence of drugs or alcohol—are common symptoms of co-occurring disorders. This is because substance abuse can impair judgment and decision-making skills.
Tolerance Levels Are Altered
When someone uses drugs or alcohol regularly, they tend to need more and more of the substance to get the desired effects. This tolerance level change is an indication that treatment is necessary to heal the body properly. In many cases, people who have altered tolerance levels crave drugs or alcohol often and believe that they are unable to function without using. If you find you are drinking or using drugs more than you had in the past, consider reaching out for help.
Loss of Interest in Enjoyable Activities
A significant sign of substance use disorder complicated by depression is a loss of interest in hobbies and activities that your friend once enjoyed. If your loved one no longer wants to pursue their passions, such as playing golf, going out with friends, or spending time at the gym, this could be an indicator of a bigger problem. Addiction makes it difficult to concentrate or enjoy doing anything but using the drug. Additionally, depression saps your loved one’s energy, making even simple tasks feel overwhelming.
Inability to Leave the House
If your loved one who struggles with substance use disorder suddenly stops leaving the house, this could be an indicator of social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a phobia that involves extreme self-consciousness and fear of embarrassing oneself in public. People who have SAD may be unable to attend parties, gather with friends, or even step over the threshold of their front door for fear something terrible may happen.
Other mental health conditions, like depression, also include cravings for isolation. Additionally, substance abuse can leave someone feeling shame and guilt, further perpetuating the desire to stay isolated. Seeking help for co-occurring disorders can provide a path toward healthy coping mechanisms and improved social interactions.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment Helps Build a Better Life
Red Oak Recovery® offers dual diagnosis treatment for addiction and co-occurring disorders such as:
- Bipolar disorder
- Disordered eating
At our treatment center in Asheville, NC, we believe that using traditional treatment options for drug or alcohol addiction, paired with experiential and wilderness therapy, works well for recovery.