Tag Archives: Co-Occurring Disorders

Young People With Mental Disorders More Likely to Abuse Drugs

Co-Occurring DisordersChildren and teenagers who have been treated for a mental disorder are more likely to abuse drugs, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They discovered that mental illness among young people can cause them to seek out the medicinal effects of narcotics at a higher rate than those that have not had a mental illness. This information is intended to be a warning to parents. Knowing that your child is suffering, or has suffered, from a mental illness means parents should be especially watchful of potential substance abuse issues.

Researchers of the study gathered information from more than 10,000 teens. They found that there was a significant relationship between mental illness and drug and alcohol dependence and noted that prior to first alcohol or drug use, mental illness was already present and documented. According to the study that appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, two thirds of teenagers with substance abuse problems also had some form of mental disorder.

“Recognizing anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders – and even the symptoms of these conditions – in youth and helping children to cope, treating them when necessary, is the best approach because then they will be less likely to seek drugs and alcohol to treat the symptoms of these conditions,” explained study author Kathleen R. Merikangas, PhD.

This is further evidence to support the need for treating co-occurring disorders as well as incorporating more drug abuse prevention measures for young people dealing with other issues.

Treating Alcoholism and PTSD

Those who struggle with an alcohol addiction and also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have often struggled to tackle either of their issues, let alone both of them at the same time. The duality of these two problems can make treating them very challenging. Researches have been looking into possible solutions to these problems and the growing population of people who are addicted to alcohol and have PTSD.

Research like the kind that is being conducted at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina is vital for the long term physical and mental health of those that struggle with an alcohol use disorder and post-traumatic stress.

A combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aimed at treating substance abuse and exposure therapy aimed at treating PTSD seems to be the most effective approach. Attacking the problems individually allows for each issue to receive adequate treatment. Concurrent Treatment of Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure (COPE) is the name researchers have given this two-pronged attack to the problems. The research shows that after several months of administering this type of therapy to individuals, many experienced significant gains in mental health.

There are other types of treatment that have shown positive results as well. Some researchers have made headway when administering certain kinds of blood pressure medication in conjunction with therapy. A specific study showed that those that received clonidine had longer time between relapses and stayed sober for longer and reported less stress. While these studies are still in the early stages, it does appear that treating both problems at once is possible.

In the past, many people were concerned about those who suffered from co-occurring disorders. Figuring out which problem to treat first proved to be difficult. Treating the addiction first oftentimes got the person out of immediate danger and allowed them to better focus on their therapy. However, some people argued that treating the mental disorder first allows for better and longer lasting treatment of the addiction. More information seems to indicate that both issues should be addressed concurrently for the best results, though the types of therapies used can vary widely.

Treating Chronic Pain and Addiction Among Veterans

housevaA recent article from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) urges better cooperation between states and Veterans Affairs (VA) health centers regarding prescription drug monitoring among Veterans, especially for opioids and benzodiazepines. It cites the necessity to ensure quality treatment and alleviation of pain while being more aware of addiction problems for the purpose of prevention and rehabilitation.

Last Fall, a statement was provided to the House Veterans Affairs’ Subcommittee on Health hearing, “Between Peril and Promise: Facing the Dangers of VA’s Skyrocketing Use of Prescription Painkiller’s to Treat Veterans” by APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. Dr. Levin recommended more specialty training for physicians within the VA system for the diagnosis and treatment of co-occurring disorders as well as opioid addiction.

The APA produced a series of webinars focused on the use of treatments for opioid dependence and on the safe use of opioids in the treatment of chronic pain. The free webinars were available for psychiatrists, physicians of other specialties, other prescribers, residents, and other interested clinicians. Example webinar topics included:

– The Use of Buprenorphine to Treat Co-occurring Pain and Opioid Dependence in a Primary Care Setting

– Learning the Evidence Behind Alternative/Complementary Chronic Pain Management – Emphasis on Chronic Low Back Pain

– Patterns of Opioid Use, Misuse, and Abuse in the Military, VA, and US Population

– Enhancing Access to PDMPs [Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs] Through Health Information Technology

– Identifying and Intervening With Problematic Medication Use Behaviors

– Assessing and Screening for Addiction in Chronic Pain Patients

– Psychological Management and Pharmacotherapy of Patients with Chronic Pain and Depression, Schizophrenia, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The number of Veterans dealing with anxiety, PTSD, depression or any other disorder in conjunction with substance abuse is higher than ever. A large portion of the addiction problems are connected to prescription drugs, especially for those who are also combating chronic pain symptoms. A greater awareness and higher level of education and training on how to deal with the multi-layered problems will help to ensure better outcomes for the health of our Veterans.

Treating Addiction and Mental Health Disorders Together Can Be Critical

ddchartIn the broader addiction treatment community, there has been some discussion in the past about whether addiction or mental health issues should be treated first, while others feel that they can be treated at the same time in a co-occurring or dual-diagnosis setting. At Desert Cove Recovery, we feel that it is essential to address the multiple issues and challenges toward living a rewarding life that come with substance abuse and other disorders. In fact, it can be the critical difference between repeated relapses or lasting sobriety.

Rather than arguing the chicken-or-the-egg theory, time and efforts are better spent finding solutions to the problems individuals face in life, and studies have suggested that one disorder can exacerbate another. With multiple program and therapy tools available, experienced clinicians and other treatment professionals work together with the patients to improve the symptoms of each disorder, which can continue to get better over time through involvement in support groups.

For example, in the upcoming issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, study authors from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Massachusetts General Hospital found that dual-diagnosis patients responded well to active ongoing participation in 12 step meetings. Other research has demonstrated that simultaneous treatment of co-occurring disorders improves substance abuse rates as well, rather than treating one diagnosis at a time.

With the new year upon us, there isn’t a better time than now to start on the road to recovery with successful treatment. Whether you are seeking help for yourself or a loved one, contact Desert Cove Recovery today to find out more about our mental health and addiction treatment program.

Percentage of Treatment Facilities Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders Increasing

typeofserviceschartAccording to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the percentage of drug and alcohol rehab centers that also treatment mental health issues increased from 29 percent to 32 percent during the last four years. The trend appears to continue the growth in that direction.

Critics say that people are being over-diagnosed with mental disorders and then overly medicated. Whether or not there is any truth to that, the usefulness of identifying symptoms and finding effective treatments for them still remains. In the case of co-occurring substance abuse and other mental health issues, there are many different ways to address these and can usually be developed on an individual basis.

The tools available for treating behavioral health conditions are vast, and finding the right recovery center with experienced professionals can be essential. Desert Cove Recovery has a clinical team that will customize a dual-diagnosis treatment program for each individual.

These individualized treatment plans may include any combination of a number of approaches such as group counseling, private therapy sessions, cognitive behavioral therapy, appropriate medications, social skills training, relapse prevention and more.

Contact us today for more information about how we successfully treat co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.