What are the 2 most common mental health disorders associated with substance abuse?

Two Most Common Concurrent Conditions Associated With Substance Misuse

No one starts out wanting to become dependent on drugs or alcohol. Often, substance use disorders begin as a way of coping with stress or self-medicating.

Maybe it starts out with having a drink to relax after a rough day or smoking a joint because you’re nervous. You enjoy the feeling of relaxation. The intoxicants make you feel happy or more capable. Before you know it, you’re relying on the false sense of calm, confidence, or euphoria that substances create.

In fact, you stop feeling “normal” unless you have a drink or use. When you are able to partake, you need more of your substance of choice just to obtain the same feeling as when you first began using drugs or alcohol. This creates a downward spiral of substance use that can quickly transition from use to dependence to addiction.

Many times, substance use disorder is masking an underlying mental health condition. Until that is addressed, recovery will be more difficult and short-lived.

The good news is that there are options for concurrent diagnosis and substance use disorder treatment. With a clear diagnosis and the support of trained addiction specialists at BlueCrest Recovery Center, we’ll help uncover the underlying source of the problem. Then, we can work with you to create an actionable plan for recovery.

What Is a Concurrent Mental Health Condition?

You may have heard the term “concurrent mental health condition” or read it somewhere. It’s also sometimes referred to as “dual diagnosis” or “co-occurring disorder.”

Whatever term is most familiar, the underlying situation is the same: There is an underlying health condition that increases the risk of developing a substance use disorder.

This could be due to an injury or chronic illness that turned into reliance on pain medications and got out of hand. Perhaps weight management or your workload led to dependence on stimulants.

Most commonly, though, is a mental health disorder that transitions to substance use in order to cope. The two most common of these are anxiety and depression.

The Link Between Anxiety, Depression, and Substance Use Disorder

Anxiety and depression often share a co-morbidity, and they are linked to substance use disorders both as an outcome of struggling with addiction and a root cause. According to research, more than 7% of adults and 17% of adolescents are struggling with chronic clinical depression. For anxiety, the rates are over 18%. These conditions are diagnosed as concurrent in more than 70% of cases.

That only accounts for those who have been diagnosed and are actively seeking treatment. It’s estimated that two-thirds of those with depression go undiagnosed. These are the individuals most at-risk for self-medication and developing substance use disorder.

You might be more at-risk for developing a co-occurring condition if:

• You tend to take drugs or drink when faced with an unpleasant or stressful situation, such as financial problems, relationship issues, or a major life event.

• There is a direct relationship between your emotional state and substance use. For example, you start to drink when you feel depressed or anxious.

• There’s a family history of substance use or mental health disorders.

• You’ve been diagnosed or treated in the past for substance use or mental health disorders.

Signs That You May Have an Underlying Mental Health Disorder

According to findings reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 37% of those who misuse alcohol and 53% of individuals who misuse drugs also have at least one concurrent mental health disorder. Substance misuse often multiplies the effects of mental health conditions, making the problem exponentially worse. In fact, the symptoms are the same in many cases, making an accurate diagnosis and treatment that much more difficult.

Signs that you may be dealing with an undiagnosed mental health condition can be divided into physical, behavioral, and social changes. Symptoms can remain hidden and masked through self-medication or appear sudden and drastic.

They include:

• Changes in appearance, such as lacking basic hygiene and sudden weight loss or gain
• Changes in routine or habits, such as hanging out with new peer groups or self-isolation
• Excessive absenteeism or tardiness
• Periods of unusual activity, either becoming unusually active or chronically lethargic; this should be out of character and lasting for days at a time, but it could also describe sudden and drastic swings from one end of the spectrum to the other.
• Unusual or strong body odor
• Deteriorating behavior, such as aggression, anger, or crying jags with no apparent cause
• Unexplained legal or financial problems

You might also become more secretive or suspicious of others. Apathy develops, and you can’t seem to find joy anymore in things that previously made you feel happy.

How a Dual-Diagnosis Is Treated

The key to recovery is to get a proper diagnosis and treatment for both the substance misuse and underlying conditions that contribute to the problem. However, which issue should be addressed first?

If you’re struggling with a substance use disorder, the most important thing is to detox from the alcohol or drugs. This will help to gain some mental clarity and allow medical or mental health professionals to get a more accurate assessment of your condition.

Once the drugs and/or alcohol are out of your system, an integrated approach to treatment is the most beneficial course of action. Diagnosing mental health conditions is usually done through evaluation, physical exams, and lab testing.

At BlueCrest Recovery Center, we take a comprehensive approach to treatment that begins with detox and clinical evaluation. We follow that up with individual and/or family therapy as indicated by your life circumstances and the nature of your issues. This is the time when many undiagnosed mental health disorders are uncovered.

We also believe that in order to fully integrate physical and mental health, spiritual growth is important. Yoga, meditation, and journaling are key aspects of this approach. There is also an emphasis on nutrition and spiritual nourishment. Each individual is unique, so your therapies and treatments will be personalized to your situation, length and severity of the problem, life circumstances, and recovery goals.

Treatment for Mental Health Disorders

Treatment for mental health disorders can take a range of approaches that are geared toward managing the condition with proper medication if needed and an array of therapies. These include:

• Individual therapy with a licensed clinician
• Group therapy to encourage peer support and foster accountability
• Family therapy, if indicated
• Cognitive behavioral therapy
• 12-step programs
• Self-help and healthy self-care practices

Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

Your course of treatment for substance use disorder depends upon several factors, including:

• Substances that are being misused
• Length and severity of the problem
• Life, work, and family circumstances
• Co-occurring conditions
• Physical and mental health

In addition to group and individual therapy, your treatment options at our facility are:

• Partial care programs
• Outpatient treatment
• Intensive outpatient treatment
• Family programs
• Alumni programs
• Interventions

Partial Care Programs (PHP)

Recovery is a full-time occupation, so care programs follow a similar schedule. Clients who participate in our PHP treatment will meet at our facility from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week. While in attendance, we’ll address your substance use disorder and any concurrent conditions through immersive programs that include 12-step instruction, client education, and group therapy.

Outpatient Treatment

This is an option for people with less severe or short-term substance use problems and those who can’t stay in a residential program due to family or work obligations. This can also be a transitional step for those leaving a residential treatment center or halfway house.

Outpatient treatment is less immersive than IOP or PHP, with meetings usually scheduled one or two nights a week; daytime sessions are also available. During these sessions, clients will participate in 12-step programs and meet with individual counselors.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)

An intensive outpatient program can run from two to five days per week, dependent on your level of need. These sessions can also be attended on days or evenings. The session structure and programs are the same as for our partial care programs and based on assessment from our team of treatment specialists.

Family Programs

Family dynamics play a large part in substance use disorders and recovery. Not only can relationship issues put one at risk for substance misuse, but untreated conditions also contribute to family strife.

Our facility encourages weekly family therapy sessions and at least one session of couples’ counseling if indicated. The purpose is to provide education about mental health and substance use disorders, encourage open communication, and provide family members and intimate partners with tools and coping skills of their own.

Alumni Programs

Once you complete a program at our facility, you become eligible for our Alumni Program. This is an important extension of our wellness community that gives participants an opportunity to give back to others who are struggling.

Alumni groups provide additional peer support and social interaction with others who are committed to sobriety and wellness. Interaction can continue for weeks, months, or even years into your recovery. It’s fully voluntary but highly encouraged.


One of the biggest barriers to recovery is denial. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell that you’re on a harmful path if an existing condition goes undiagnosed. Other times, you or those closest to you notice a problem but don’t know how to proceed.

We arrange interventions for friends, co-workers, and family members who are tired of watching someone they care about suffer but feel helpless to do anything. Interventions are sometimes needed to allow someone dealing with substance use disorder or a with a dual diagnosis to see how their issues are impacting the people in their lives. This may be the wake-up call that’s needed when someone is in denial or provide hope to someone who knows that there’s a problem but doesn’t know where to turn for help.

Alternative Therapies and Treatments for Concurrent Disorder Treatment

Art and music therapy are useful strategies for many people in recovery. The arts are soothing and naturally mood-elevating and help articulate your emotions when words can’t.

Journaling helps you to sort out your thoughts and emotions so that you can release negativity and self-doubt in a healthier, more productive manner. Meditation helps you feel calmer and more centered. It also teaches you to let go of stress and other negative energies through mindfulness.

Nutrition is also an important facet of recovery. When people are misusing drugs and alcohol, self-care and proper nutrition are often the first things to suffer. Adding in a co-occurring mental health disorder complicates the problem and wears down your physical health in addition to your mental health.

Detoxing from drugs also leads to food cravings, especially for sugar. This is because sugar affects the same areas of the brain as certain substances, and it provides the same feelings of well-being. Food is also tied to anxiety and depression because we tend to munch when we’re stressed out or take comfort in certain foods when we’re depressed. Nutritional support and education are designed to help with these issues as well.

Within these various therapeutic approaches, you’ll learn to identify triggers or stressors, develop new tools and coping strategies, gain support from staff and peers, and incorporate important lifestyle changes that are designed to keep you on the road to recovery over the long term.

We’re Here to Provide the Recovery Support You Need

When you or a loved one needs help overcoming substance use disorder, our facility is just a phone call away. At BlueCrest Recovery Center, we strive to provide a personalized, comprehensive treatment program that integrates mind, body, and spirit.

Our holistic approach addresses the root cause of your issues through a combination of evidence-based therapeutic practices, client education, and 12-step group support. Don’t hesitate to reach out and let us help you take those first steps toward a quality of life that embraces sobriety and wellness.

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