What You Should Know About Co-Occuring Disorders and their Treatment  


When someone has mental health illnesses and substance abuse patterns at the same time, we call them co-occurring disorders. Substance abuse can be of varying levels. They are becoming increasingly common today, so more sophisticated methods of treatment them have also emerged over the past decade.

Co-occurring disorders are difficult to diagnose because they share many symptoms in common. If you or someone you care about have this type of disorder, it is immensely helpful to join a trusted Minnesota dual disorder program. For instance, MHS who have multiple locations in Minnesota have experience in correctly separating the symptoms for both mental health problems and drug abuse problems, for better treatment.

Diagnosing co-occurring disorders

A high percentage of people suffering from drug abuse also suffer from some kind of mental health disorders. Sometimes alcohol and other forms or abuse result from highly stressful situations and disorders. Some of the most common symptoms for co-occurring disorders include:

  • Increase in anger
  • Frequent episodes of depression
  • Increase in tendency to use drugs or alcohol
  • Lack of ability to form or maintain relationships

Specialized treatment centres are needed for correct diagnosis of co-occurring disorders. This is because we need to know how much of the problem started with drug abuse and to what degree it has cause mental issues.

Successful treatment

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy or DBT has emerged as one of the most effective treatments for co-occurring disorders. It combines many aspects of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT and mindfulness techniques derived from Buddhist traditions. This type of treatment is designed around helping patients:

  • Be more mindful and aware of their thoughts
  • Get through distressing moments and periods with calm and without going back to self-injurious behaviour
  • Reducing dependence on drugs and alcohol in a gradual manner
  • Manage their emotions better so they don’t get angry, frustrated, stressed or sad during certain times

Co-occurring disorders are obviously more difficult to treat, which is why it is important to consider specialized centres. Their line of treatment usually includes 2-3 days a week of therapy. Due to the complexity of the disorders, it can take more time than usual to complete treatment.

The emergence of DBT emphasizes on taking both types of disorders and treating them as a whole rather than trying to manage them separately. The rate of recovery from such disorders varies among individuals, depending on how good the facility is and how willing the patient is to improve.

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