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Co-Occurring Disorders: The Connection Between Mental Health and Substance Use

Co-Occurring Disorders: The Connection Between Mental Health and Substance Use

People diagnosed with substance use disorders (SUDs) are more likely to develop co-occurring mental health disorders. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Around 1 in 4 individuals with [serious mental illnesses] also have a SUD.” 

Receiving early treatment for co-occurring disorders decreases the severity of symptoms and can protect you from long-term side effects. Mindfuli therapists and counselors are experienced and compassionate in treating dual diagnoses related to SUD and mental health issues. 

Substance Misuse and Mental Health Disorders 

The side effects and symptoms of substance misuse can make you more susceptible to mental health disorders. SUD also decreases the body’s ability to manage stress. 

According to MedlinePlus, “[P]eople with mental disorders may use drugs or alcohol to try to feel better temporarily.” Many people use substance misuse to self-medicate and cope with severe mental health symptoms that interfere with their ability to function.

The most common co-occurring disorders include: 

  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Schizophrenia 
  • Eating disorders (EDs) 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Process addictions

Early treatment will help you manage the symptoms of dual diagnosis and reduce the risk of relapse. However, in many cases, the symptoms of SUDs and mental health disorders look very similar, making them difficult to diagnose. 

If you recognize the signs of a mental health disorder, it is essential to get an official diagnosis and begin treatment immediately. Addressing co-occurring issues will stop them from interfering with your sobriety and ongoing recovery. 

Possible Signs of Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

The signs and symptoms of mental health disorders can vary significantly from person to person. Below are some of the most common signs of dual diagnosis: 

  • Inability to focus or mental “fog” 
  • Decreased motivation and energy 
  • Hyperactivity or mania
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities 
  • Unusual anger or irritation 
  • Extreme mood swings 
  • Feelings of doom or hopelessness 
  • Grandiose thoughts or behaviors
  • Compulsive thoughts or behaviors 
  • Intensive mental images 
  • Decreased personal hygiene
  • Unusual weight loss or gain 
  • Sleep disturbances 

Physical signs of mental health issues can include exhaustion, muscle tension, body aches, migraines, and tremors. In addition, substance misuse or related disorders might cause other unexplained physical symptoms. If you recognize these signs in yourself or a loved one, reach out to a mental health professional. 

Managing Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders During Early Recovery

Symptoms of mental health disorders can trigger cravings, intrusive thoughts, and compulsive behavior. During aftercare and early recovery, the effects often feel more pronounced, and your therapist can help you avoid becoming overwhelmed. The objective perspective offered by a therapist can provide a new way of looking at the situation that lowers stress and enables you to find positive solutions. 

Your therapist will show you how to develop the following tools and essential coping skills:

  • Identifying and analyzing potential triggers 
  • Creating a safety plan for moments of crisis 
  • Developing a support system 
  • Monitoring your emotional stability 
  • Encouraging self-accountability
  • Improving self-efficacy 

Your care team on Mindfuli will guide you through early recovery with compassion, empathy, and understanding. The support of mental health professionals and paraprofessionals can help you create new routines that encourage healthy behaviors and thought patterns.  

Telehealth Treatments for Co-Occurring Disorders 

The risk factors for substance misuse and mental health issues often overlap, making simultaneous treatment the best option for many people. Telehealth can provide essential emotional support during your recovery. 

Apps like Mindfuli give you easy access to mental health professionals and paraprofessionals throughout the week. If you experience cravings, compulsions, or unexpected stressors, you can rely on your care team to help you cope. 

Additional benefits of online treatment for dual diagnosis include: 

  • Convenience 
  • Accessibility 
  • Consistency 

The Mindfuli app will match you with a therapist and counselor with the necessary skills to provide personalized treatment and support. Telehealth gives you the freedom to connect with mental health experts from the comfort and security of your own home. Everyone deserves access to high-quality mental health services, and online apps ensure you have all the tools you need to recover from SUDs and co-occurring mental health issues.

Maintaining Long-Term Recovery  

Recovery from substance misuse is a lifelong journey that comes with many challenges. Managing mental health symptoms can decrease your risk of relapse and help you thrive during aftercare and ongoing recovery. 

Mindfuli provides you with access to a care team that understands the realities of addiction recovery and how it can impact mental health. You can heal and move forward, building a healthy future for yourself and your loved ones. 

A therapist can encourage and motivate you to grow and heal during ongoing recovery. No matter what obstacles you face in the future, you can count on your care team to help you get through them using evidence-based methods and compassionate support.

Co-occurring substance misuse and mental health disorders can cause more severe symptoms and side effects related to both conditions. Early treatment is essential to ensure dual diagnosis does not lead to relapse or the development of other mental health disorders. Online therapy and counseling can help you come to terms with your current circumstances and overcome any challenges you face during your recovery from SUD. A therapist with dual diagnosis experience can help you overcome challenges related to long-term sobriety and mental health symptoms. The Mindfuli app can help you find the best therapist and counselor to meet your needs. To learn more about our services, call us today at 866-973-4415.

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