Co-Occurring Disorders

January 7, 2020

The term co-occurring disorders in teens could be described as a condition where a person has a co-existing substance use disorder and mental illness. While typically used to refer to the combination of mental and substance use disorders, the term additionally refers to different combinations of disorders, such as intellectual disability and a mental disorder. (The terms double diagnosis and dual disorder were formerly used to describe this condition).

When a mental disorder and a substance use disorder co-exist, they may vary in seriousness, and the severity of each could change over time. Compared to people who have only one disorder, people with a combination of disorders may experience increasingly severe medical and psychological health challenges and may likewise require longer periods of treatment.

What Is an Addiction?

Addiction is an interminable sickness wherein the sufferer has no control over their carving for a substance. Teen drug addiction implies that your teen may consistently seek out drugs, even at a price of horrendous consequences. Many addiction victims want to quit but simply cannot do it, because the whole chemistry of their body has changed, causing them to pine for their drug above anything else.

Most times, this sickness can only be treated through residential means of treatment, where teens are engaged in daily therapy and unable to lay their hands on substances. Practically half of the American teens who seek addiction treatment likewise have a co-occurring psychological vulnerability. Some drugs have the capacity to instigate psychiatric symptoms that can have a huge effect on a teen’s mental health.

For instance, if a teen is addicted to powerful hallucinogen LSD, that teenager may start to experience severe anxiety. They may experience issues differentiating hallucinatory experiences from real life and start having frequent panic attacks.

What Is Mental Illness?

Mental disorder is a chronic sickness that negatively impacts a teenager’s thinking, mood, relationships, behaviors, and ability to function properly in society. There are over 200 classifications of mental disorder. Although each has its symptoms, all are damaging to a teen’s health. Half of all mental issues start by age 14, making the teenage years a critical time to get treatment. Alongside a similar vein, teenagers with psychological health issues are more likely to experience addiction.

In fact, teenage depression has been linked to profoundly increase the chances of a teen turning to alcohol use and developing an addiction. When a teenager is battling a mental disorder to him, substance abuse can be a way of dealing with it. For instance, if a teen is experiencing anorexia, they may turn to painkiller abuse to help deal with the anguish of anorexia. Eating disorder — which has the highest mortality rate of all dysfunctional behavior and is rarely treated without professional help — are much more deadly when combined with addiction.

What Comes First: Addiction or Mental Illness?

It is often difficult to tell which issue started first. In one case, an individual may experience anxiety from childhood trauma and seek drugs to cope, building up an addiction. In another case, the individual may turn to heroin and have negative experiences that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The critical thing is to find help for both issues — drug issues and some other mental health issues.

Treating co-occurring disorders in teens can be very challenging because most times, the different mental health specialists involved do not establish treatment for the two issues. Psychologists, doctors, psychiatrists, and social workers most times treat only mental health disorders, while a blend of medicinal services experts with different backgrounds may offer treatment for substance addiction.

Why Does it Happen?

The “why” of comorbidity is very hard to establish. With co-occurring disorders, it is difficult to tell for certain if the two conditions are connected, or if one triggered the other, or if the condition that is diagnosed first is not really responsible for subsequent conditions that emerge. Consider it as the deep-rooted problem, “What came first, the egg or the chicken?” substance use affects the brain and can aggravate the symptoms of existing psychological health conditions.

Or on the other hand, somebody with a psychological health condition may attempt to self-medicate, treating symptoms of anxiety or depression by using alcohol or drugs. Studies are still trying to prove whether there is an unmistakable causal relationship. Moreover, studies have shown that drug abuse and mental illness involve similar areas of the brain.

The parts of the brain that react to stress and that process the feeling of “reward” are both affected by the abuse of substance and mental health disorder. Regardless of whether those parts of the brain are being triggered by a mental illness or drugs, the brain activities itself can make it increasingly vulnerable to other conditions.

Symptoms of Co-occurring Disorders in Teens

Early detection and treatment can be the difference between picking a path of isolation, addiction, and long-term emotional issues—or a path of wellbeing, emotional wellness, and meaningful relationships. Symptoms to look for in teens affected by these problems include issues incorporate, however, are not restricted to, changes in:

  1. Sleep — too little or too much or at odd times of the day
  2. Appetite — times, amount, kinds of food
  3. Physical Health — decreased or increased energy or fatigue, constricted, or red eyes, or dilated pupils, decrease or increase in weight, running nose, or respiratory problems
  4. Personal Hygiene — obsession or lack of it
  5. Appearance — different hairstyle, hair color, makeup or clothes
  6. Friends — Social withdrawn or different social groups
  7. Behavior — self-harming or self-destructive, hyper, isolated, forgetful, inattentive, lack of motivation, sexual promiscuity, increased paranoia, breaking rules
  8. Mood — extreme moodiness and irritability to extreme happiness, or suicidal thoughts
  9. School or Work — grades, sports, hobbies, activities, attendance

Treating co-occurring disorders early is important for your teen. Without treatment, co-occurring disorders can make life extremely difficult for your kid and your family. Without the essential coordinated treatment, an individual with co-occurring disorders may struggle with getting and maintaining employment, finishing school, coexisting with relatives, and gaining financial stability. They are likewise at increased risk for suicide, homelessness, and medical complications that can reduce their lifespan.

Risk Factors

  • Teenage: Both mental illness and substance abuse are developmental disorders, and a teenager brain that’s still developing is at higher risk for both. If a person starts using drugs during adolescence or childhood before their brain has fully formed, the use of that drug can possibly affect the brain in such a way that makes it increasingly likely to result in mental illness. Once more, the reverse is likewise true: A person that develops mental illness at a youthful age might be more susceptible to developing an addiction as well.
  • Genetics: Both mental health and addiction disorders are brain diseases, and just as family history places some people at increased risks for cancer or heart disease, genetics can incline an individual to develop a brain disorder like an addiction. Genetics can likewise put an individual at higher risk for developing a co-existing mental health problem.
  • Exposure: External variables can trigger psychological health or substance abuse disorders. This may include excessive trauma, stress, sexual or physical abuse, living in an unsafe environment or war zone, poverty, neglect, or other negative conditions the brain has problem handling.

Recognizing Co-occurring Conditions in Teens

Though the symptoms of co-occurring disorders can differ greatly in teenagers, possible symptoms include the following. The teen has probably been in the hospital or visited the emergency room on so many occasions. They may feel hopeless or helpless and withdraw from social activities. It might be impossible or very difficult for the teen to experience a real-life pleasure.

Family or financial issues are likewise common for teens with co-occurring disorders. Drug or alcohol intake or behaviors such as shopping or excessive gambling may cause huge problems in their life. Psychological illness may incorporate bipolar disorder or depression, anxiety, and drug or alcohol intake or behaviors such as excessive shopping or gambling may cause major issues in their life.

Psychological illness may incorporate depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Does this sound familiar to you or for someone you know you know? When people suffering from co-occurring disorders come to us for treatment, they are prepared to seek after serious treatment and recuperation from complex, co-mobility. Then, they may likewise have had zero success with fighting the symptoms with medications.

Barriers To Treatment:

  1. Absence of healthcare providers trained in fighting both mental health and substance use disorders in an integrated manner.
  2. Policy barriers which limit the functional integration of mental health and substance use services (for example, financing, organization structure, licensing, and regulations.
  3. Absence of clear service models, contractual incentives, administrative guidelines, outcome measures, and quality assurance procedures required for treatment projects to adequately implement co-existing interventions in treatment programs.
  4. The stigma connected to both mental illness and substance use disorder.
  5. Fundamental interventions treating co-occurring disorders are not always included in the mental health programs in which patients receive care

Treatment Approaches

In 2016, as revealed by the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services information, 47 percent of treatment facilities in the US reported offering groups and programs explicitly tailored towards patients with co-occurring disorders. Research has revealed that regular substance use disorder treatment program like cognitive behavioral therapy, is proven to improve the mental functioning of people with co-occurring disorders at the same rate as psychiatrically integrated or co-occurring specific treatment methods. Among these specific treatment methods is a residential treatment method that will be well explained below.

Residential Co-occurring Treatment Centers

Some people may profit from residential or inpatient co-occurring treatment centers, where their physical and mental health can be monitored 24 hours every day. Residential treatment often comprises of a group and individual psychotherapy and treatment program aimed at the person’s needs. An effective co-occurring treatment center knows that an individual with a co-occurring issue may have intrusive thoughts that affect their functioning, an absence of inspiration to change behaviors, and problems associating with others. Treatment centers should likewise include:

  • Counseling that addresses the relationship between mental illness and substance use
  • An adequate evaluation of substance use and mental health history
  • Medication treatment to tackle signs of mental disorder
  • Enlightenment programs for family members
  • Follow-up programs that offer support after discharge

While picking a co-occurring disorders treatment center, ensure that the program and the staff are licensed and trained in treating all kinds of diagnoses. Behavioral healthcare professionals at our residential treatment facility provide effective treatment for teens suffering from co-occurring disorders by utilizing an integrated method to treat both the substance use addiction and mental health disorder simultaneously.

Since numerous treatment centers may focus on only substance use addiction or a specific mental issue, finding the best care for a child or teen in co-occurring disorders residential treatment may be difficult. We are set up with a multidisciplinary Treatment Team that is captained by an adolescent forensic psychiatrist. Our staff has likewise been trained and educated to work with teenagers with co-occurring disorders, and the program is fully licensed by the authority.

Therapist Talk - Co-Occurring Disorders - Hillcrest

Other Treatment Options for Co-occurring Disorders

Psychotherapy is at the core of the best treatment programs. Be that as it may, the integrated treatment utilizes something other than one type of care while dealing with the co-occurring issue. Exposure therapy may help some people suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related issues.

Individual and group counseling sessions are a piece of both substance abuse and mental health care treatment. Educational opportunities offering insights into both substance abuse and mental illness. Fundamental skill offers support for long-haul success. Family counseling sessions can help fix relationships and provide improved communication and understanding.

People with co-occurring disorders suffer noticeably. They’re more prone to suffering from violence, have higher suicide rates, and most times have interpersonal problems. We understand that people suffering from co-occurring disorders cause these sorts of problems because they’re hurting. Here at Hillcrest, it’s our quest to treat teens with co-occurring disorders with total patience, respect, and understanding to help them heal and recover. Our residential treatment program provides a focused blend of medication, psychotherapy, and psychiatric management to adequately identify and treat co-occurring disorders.