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Millions of people battle addiction and mental illness every year. Sometimes these conditions exist independently of one another, and sometimes they both affect the same individual. But how frequently does that happen? How common are co-occurring disorders? Continue reading to learn more about dual diagnosis, its prevalence in the United States, and how to get help for co-occurring disorders.

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

Before we can answer “How common are co-occurring disorders?” it’s important to understand what co-occurring disorders actually are. In short, when substance use disorder and another mental health condition affect someone at the same time, they’re referred to as co-occurring disorders (or dual diagnosis).

Any type of addiction can occur alongside another mental illness. Similarly, almost any mental health condition can accompany substance use. To illustrate that, some of the most common co-occurring disorders include:

Please also note that it does not matter which of these conditions manifests first. Some individuals hope to soothe symptoms of mental illness with drug or alcohol use, which causes them to fall into addiction. Someone else may start with that addiction, then develop a mental illness due to the impact it has on their life.

No matter the case, it’s important to seek treatment for both conditions in order to progress toward recovery. Failure to address both sides of the issue may result in treatment seeming ineffective.

How Common Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

Now that we have established what co-occurring disorders are, we can move on to the matter at hand: How common are co-occurring disorders?

In 2018, SAMHSA found that 9.2 million adults in the United States lived with co-occurring disorders. That equates to 3.7% of the adult population. Less than four percent might sound like a fairly low number, so to put it into perspective, let’s evaluate another statistic.

Consider that natural redheads are estimated to make up two to six percent of the same population. Therefore, on average, those with co-occurring disorders appear almost as frequently as people with red hair.

In addition, keep in mind that roughly 20 million individuals in the United States live with a substance use disorder. Based on the numbers above, almost half of those people will receive a diagnosis for a mental health condition as well. In other words, every other person who seeks addiction treatment is likely to have a co-occurring mental illness.

So, how common are co-occurring disorders? The answer is quite common, especially compared to the overall prevalence of addiction in the United States. Their frequency cannot be overlooked when someone reaches out for mental health care.

Why Are Co-Occurring Disorders Common?

After learning that the answer to “how common are co-occurring disorders?” is “fairly common,” many people want to know why that is. In reality, there is no singular, definitive reason behind the prevalence of co-occurring disorders. Instead, we can look at an assortment of potential factors that contribute to the likelihood of dual diagnosis.

As discussed previously, someone may turn to substances to mask the effects of a pre-existing mental illness. For instance, someone with depression may seek out the euphoric high of a stimulant drug for a temporary reprieve from their symptoms. Or someone with anxiety may find that alcohol eases their worries and helps them relax.

Alternatively, someone may develop a mental health condition as a result of an addiction they already have. Addiction can have negative physical, mental, and social effects on someone’s life, and these impacts can cause mental health to spiral downward. For example, if someone’s relationships fall apart as a result of substance abuse, they may develop depression.

However, not all co-occurring disorders have a causal relationship. Other risk factors that increase someone’s chances of dual diagnosis include:

  • Genetics
  • Family history of addiction/mental illness
  • Chronic pain
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Stress (i.e. financial difficulties, trouble at work)
  • Adverse childhood memories
  • Grief/loss

Regardless of how someone develops co-occurring disorders, they should be able to find adequate help. Recovery is possible for anyone. You simply need to know where to find the proper resources.

How Are Co-Occurring Disorders Treated?

How Are Co-Occurring Disorders Treated?

Knowing the answer to “How common are co-occurring disorders?” can help individuals feel less alone in their struggles. However, the next important question to consider involves how co-occurring disorders are treated once identified.

Because the symptoms of one can worsen the other, it is crucial to pursue treatment for both. Thankfully, with co-occurring disorders being such a widespread issue, specialized treatment programs have been developed for this exact purpose.

Medical Detox

In many cases, the first step of addiction treatment involves a medical detox. This is a necessary component of treatment because someone with an addiction is typically physically dependent on their substance. In other words, their body can no longer function properly without it. When they try to stop using the substance, they experience adverse withdrawal symptoms in its absence.

Medical detox allows people to stop using drugs or alcohol in a sober, comfortable environment. At Port St. Lucie Hospital, detox patients receive 24/7 monitoring from a team of licensed physicians and addiction experts.

Our staff work tirelessly to soothe withdrawal symptoms and are equipped to handle any potential complications. This level of care makes detox a safe process, resulting in a smooth start to recovery.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Following detox, individuals with co-occurring substance use and mental health problems may enroll in a dual diagnosis treatment program. As the name suggests, this program specifically targets dual diagnosis with a full continuum of effective care.

During dual diagnosis treatment, patients partake in a variety of therapeutic activities to develop vital coping skills like communication, emotional management, and critical thinking. Their participation also allows them to learn more about their mental health disorder, their substance use, and how the two interact with each other.

Some of the treatment options utilized at Port St. Lucie Hospital include:

Furthermore, at Port St. Lucie Hospital, all treatment plans are tailored to the unique needs of each patient. Plans can also be adjusted throughout their healing journey based on the evolution of those needs. Our wide range of offered treatments allows patients to try new methods and discover what works best for them.

Addiction Treatment at Port St. Lucie Hospital

If dual diagnosis treatment sounds like it could be right for you, contact Port St. Lucie Hospital for more information. Nestled in a beautiful, tranquil spot near the Savannas Preserve, our facility offers a calm and secure environment designed to enhance the recovery process.

Our admissions team is happy to provide answers and walk you through the next steps. If you have other questions like “How common are co-occurring disorders?” please call us at 772-408-5871 or submit a confidential contact form online.

Above all, remember that it is never too late to heal from alcohol or drug addictions. Port St. Lucie Hospital can help you achieve long-term sobriety no matter where you are in your recovery journey. We have the resources available–now we just need you.

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