Understanding Co-Occurring Disorders | Orlando Substance Abuse Counseling
by Jessica Candelaria Lipsey
Over 10 million people have a mental health disorder and substance use disorder combined (2005). Recognizing the link between addiction and co-occurring disorders is important for many reasons but when we acknowledge this link as a professional – whether it be a counselor, nurse, doctor, attorney etc. – it allows us to develop a cohesive system of care for this person. It is not uncommon to have a mental health disorder in conjunction with addiction. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, mood disorders, PTSD and more are seen often with substance abuse. However, when we are talking about co-occurring disorders we are not just referring to mental health symptoms – we are also finding solutions for people who might be homeless, HIV positive, or those with a history of criminal charges. When we think of the term co-occurring disorders we can think about treating the whole person and connecting them with multiple resources in the community. This all enables the person to further achieve sobriety.
Why can’t we just help the person get sober? Doesn’t that solve the issue in itself? That is the FIRST major step. Treatment programs that solely focus on the addiction aspect are missing a vital contributor to the person’s addiction. For instance, let’s say a person struggles with depression from a very young age. Then as an older adult they discover alcohol; it fills the void but gets out of control and eventually becomes a problem overtime. Once, they stop drinking the deep empty feelings of depression return and intensify without something to numb it. They are not sure how to cope with these uncomfortable feelings and they […]