Treatment of drug and alcohol addiction is seldom as simple as merely addressing the particular chemicals addict is taking into his body. More often than not, addicts suffer from other disorders in conjunction with their chemical dependency. The clinical reference to such a condition is called co-occurring disorders (Doweiko, 2012). According to Arias and Kranzler (2008) an estimated 1. 1 percent of the U. S. population has an alcohol use disorder with a co-occurring use disorder (DUD).
This type of co-morbidity is sometimes referred to as homotypic comorbidity or dual dependence. According to Doweiko (2012), dual diagnosis clients refer to patients that suffer from a concurrent form of mental illness and an SUD. Co-occurring substance disorders include but are not limited to anorexia, bulimia, gambling, abuse (spousal), compulsive shopping, AIDS, and compulsive sexual behaviors (Doweiko, 2012). People who are active substance abusers or withdrawal from many drugs of abuse can magnify or simulate symptoms of psychiatric disorders.
Addiction is common in people with mental health problems. Although substance abuse and mental health disorders like depression and anxiety are closely linked, one does not directly cause the other (Doweiko, 2012). In a dual diagnosis, both the mental health issue and the drug or alcohol addiction have their own unique symptoms that may get in the way of your ability to function, handle life’s difficulties, and relate to others (Stinson, et al. , 2005).
To make the situation more complicated, the co-occurring disorders also affect each other and interact. According to Stinson et al (2005) when a mental health problem goes untreated, the substance abuse problem usually worsens and when alcohol or drug abuse increases, mental health problems will likely increase as well. An essential step to gaining freedom from addiction involves understanding the dynamics of addiction. The addiction cycle describes the reoccurring process that takes place as person struggles with their addiction(s).
Co-occurring disorders and addiction relation to the addiction cycle is that addictive behaviors offer a fake sense of escape, pleasure, and involve psychological or physiological dependence. According to Scalise (2012) the increased symptoms and challenging treatment process add to difficulties of breaking the addiction cycle. The addiction cycle begins with pain which leads individuals to reach their absolute lowest, which many calle “hitting bottom” and then seek relief (i. . treatment). The addiction cycle continues with the addictive behaviors leading the individual to feel good just before crashing and experiencing pain again, thus restarting the cycle (Scalise, 2012). Understanding co-occurring disorders is vital to the proper treatment of chemical dependency clients. If all co-occurring disorders are effectively dealt with, there’s no reason why the addict should not regain their life as a drug-free member of society.
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