The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, reports that 8.9 million American adults have a co-occurring disorder: a mental illness which occurs alongside an addiction. The presence of a co-occurring disorder, or COD, can complicate a person's recovery and present unique challenges for the individual and their caretakers alike. 

Even if you have a friend or family member in treatment, you may not be familiar with co-occurring disorders and the ways they can complicate the recovery process. Below are four CODs which treatment professionals commonly encounter:

  • Anxiety

    Some people suffer from anxiety and panic attacks on a daily basis. Drinking or taking drugs calms them down, or so they believe. They take drugs to escape their fears, believing that they are medicating themselves, only to develop a tolerance for that particular substance. Experts recommend that a person with anxiety and an addiction seek out a treatment program which includes counseling. Counseling may involve cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), in which a therapist and a patient sit down to explore the patient's patterns of thought and behavior and how they've negatively influenced the patient's actions. With the counselor's help, individuals learn strategies for coping constructively with their urges.
  • Depression

    Depression can exert such a powerful negative influence on a person's mental state that he or she starts using drugs or alcohol to escape their feelings of hopelessness. For others, drug and alcohol use is a method of self-harm. During treatment, medical professionals might use antidepressants such as Zoloft or Prozac to treat the chemical imbalances that cause depression. In conjunction with therapy, these drugs can be beneficial in altering the patient's self-destructive mindset. Alternative treatment solutions such as art or equine therapy provide patients with an outlet for their feelings.
  • Schizophrenia

    Drug addiction combined with schizophrenia presents special challenges to mental health professionals. Not only is the patient dealing with a brain disorder that causes hallucinations, delusions, and erratic behavior, but they're also harboring a potentially deadly drug habit. Getting to the emotional and psychological roots of that habit is made doubly difficult, and uncovering the length and intensity of a patient's addiction episode can be tricky. Antipsychotic drugs such as Loxapine and Thorazine can temper the more drastic symptoms of schizophrenia and allow mental health professionals to strike at the root of the patient's dependency. 
  • PTSD

    Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is often caused by a traumatic event: the death of a loved one, for example, returning from war, or suffering some kind of abuse. PTSD sufferers turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their lingering emotional pain. In treatment, a therapist may employ exposure therapy, which lets the patient face their fears in a safe environment. Some patients find that behavioral therapy combined with group therapy – where they open up to others who are also in recovery – can help change addictive behaviors.

It's no easy task to help a friend or family member with a mental disorder to battle addiction. But competent help and information is waiting. Let us help you locate the right addiction treatment facility that offers professional advice on treating addictions with CODs today. Dial (877) 257-7997 or visit