How Does Addiction Treatment Integrate Treatment for Other Mental Health Issues?

Most people would agree that overcoming a substance abuse problem can be extremely difficult; however, it is even more challenging for those who are also struggling with a mental illness, which just so happens to be the case for countless Americans. According to a 2016 study published in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), nearly 9 million people in America reported having a substance abuse problem coupled with a co-occurring disorder, which is a clinical term used to describe suffering from a mental illness and a comorbid substance abuse problem. Fortunately, many rehab facilities offer integrated treatments that are designed to address both of these problems.


When it comes to co-occurring disorders, several mental health problems can make addiction recovery challenging. However, anxiety disorders are the most common, according to the National Institute of Health. To further emphasize this point, over 18 percent of American adults are struggling with anxiety. And 23 percent of Americans reported the disorder as being either extreme or debilitating. Coming in for a close second are mood disorders, which include depressive, dysthymic, and bipolar disorders.

That said, the approach to treatment can vary depending on the individual’s substance abuse problem and their specific mental health disorder. It is also worth noting that those with a co-occurring disorder will often face more difficult medical and mental health challenges as they go through addiction recovery than those who are struggling with addiction alone.


A co-occurring disorder is unique in that individuals will be struggling with both their mental health and withdrawal symptoms as they go through detox, some of which will include

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • A lack of focus
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Irritability
  • Profuse sweating

Along with these symptoms, individuals who are trying to overcome an addiction to benzodiazepine may also experience hallucinations, seizures, and high fevers. Also worth noting, symptoms like depression and anxiety will be even more intense for those struggling with a co-occurring disorder involving either of these two mental illnesses.


When it comes to co-occurring disorders, it can be difficult to tell whether an individual’s addiction led to their mental health problems or if their mental health problems led to their addiction. After all, studies show that many people turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their mental health problems; however, at the same time, many people develop mood disorders and other mental health problems as a result of their drug or alcohol use. The one thing that most physicians and addiction experts will agree on, however, is that one condition can be made worse by the other.


In addition to detox, which is a critical step in addiction recovery, most individuals will have to undergo some form of psychotherapy to address their mental illness. Some of the most common forms of psychotherapy offered at most licensed rehab facilities include CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and dialectical behavior therapy. These psychotherapy sessions can help individuals develop coping skills that will minimize the risk of relapse and correct maladaptive behaviors associated with their mental illness. However, these integrated treatments do not stop there; many rehab facilities also provide medications to those struggling with either withdrawal symptoms or symptoms specific to their mental illness.


To round out treatments for co-occurring disorders, many rehab facilities will provide addiction education courses that place a strong emphasis on psychoeducation. These courses provide individuals with information that can help them understand the relationship between their addiction and their mental illness and, most importantly, how to avoid letting one influence the other. Additionally, these courses include relapse prevention that teaches individuals how to recognize and avoid triggers that can lead to them using again.

After completing detox, counseling sessions, and participating in addiction education courses, many rehab facilities will encourage individuals to join a co-occurring recovery group. These groups are similar to most 12-step programs in that individuals can connect with others who are also trying to put their co-occurring disorder behind them. In short, a co-occurring recovery group allows members to share their thoughts on a wide range of topics related to substance abuse and mental health disorders, such as relapse-prevention strategies, resisting cravings, avoiding temptation, and much more.


If you’re struggling with a co-occurring disorder, there are a variety of treatments that can help you overcome both your addiction and your mental illness. To learn more about treatments available for co-occurring disorders, consider scheduling a consultation with an addiction specialist today at 844-639-8371.

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