Addiction often masks symptoms of co-occurring mental health issues. We help uncover root causes and work to build a path to total wellbeing.
Addiction and Mental Health Disorders
When you’re diagnosed with an alcohol or substance use disorder (AUD/SUD) and a mental health disorder at the same time, you have what’s known as co-occurring disorders. Mental health professionals also call this a dual diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders present unique challenges for people in treatment for AUD/SUD and for the counselors and therapists who treat them for three primary reasons:
- Symptoms: The symptoms of AUD/SUD often overlap or are indistinguishable from the symptoms of mental health disorders.
- Self-Medication: Alcohol or drug use is often initiated in an attempt to manage the uncomfortable emotions associated with untreated mental health disorders. This is known as self-medication.
- Mutual Reinforcement: Over time, alcohol and drug use often exacerbates, rather than alleviates, the symptoms of mental health disorders. This may lead to increased alcohol and/or substance use, which further exacerbates the mental health symptoms.
The fact of co-occurrence makes accurate diagnosis critical. Without proper diagnosis, an underlying mental health disorder can undermine progress made in treatment for problem alcohol and drug use.
We Treat the Whole Person
An alcohol or substance use disorder treatment plan for an individual with a co-occurring disorder that does not recognize the co-occurring mental health disorder is incomplete. At The Ridge, we understand co-occurring disorders and the role they play both in the development of and treatment for problem alcohol and drug use.
The Ridge is a residential substance abuse treatment facility, and we do not accept patients who present with a primary mental health diagnosis because we are not licensed as a mental health facility. However, we offer access to a psychiatrist in conjunction with primary substance use disorder treatment, and many of our patients have secondary mental health disorders such as depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and anxiety.
Prevalence of Co-Occurring Disorders
Co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders are far more common than most people realize. Data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show that in the year 2020:
- 17 million people in the U.S. had both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder.
- Of those 17 million, 5.7 million had a serious mental illness, defined as a mental illness that makes daily life unmanageable.
- Half of the people with co-occurring SUD/mental health disorder received treatment for one or the other, but only 5.7% of people with a dual diagnosis received specialized treatment for both disorders.
That means that in 2020, over 16 million people with a co-occurring substance use and mental health disorder did not get the treatment and support they needed. The cycle of mutually reinforcing disorders makes their path to recovery more challenging – but there is hope. Evidence shows that when an individual with a dual diagnosis receives treatment for both disorders, outcomes improve for both disorders.
Evidence-Based Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders
Psychiatric disorders that often co-occur with alcohol and substance use disorders include:
- Panic Disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Psychotic disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Anti-social personality disorder
- Eating disorders
When you enter treatment and start your path to recovery, it may take time for the symptoms of an underlying mental health disorder to appear. If symptoms do appear, the treatment team at The Ridge will determine if they can offer the appropriate level of care and support. If your mental health disorder impairs your ability to participate in treatment, we’ll refer you to a provider that offers the treatment you need.
In most cases, we adapt your treatment plan to meet your needs. Your plan may include:
- Individual counseling
- Individual psychotherapy
- Group counseling
- Family counseling
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Trauma-informed care
Your counselors and therapists communicate with one another to integrate individual psychiatric care with your comprehensive treatment plan to ensure you understand how your dual diagnosis affects your recovery. They’ll teach you that with the proper knowledge, skills, and commitment, you can meet the challenge of dual diagnosis: you can both recover from addiction and manage the symptoms of your mental health disorder.