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Psychology Today explains “Co-occurring disorder refers to having a co-existing mental illness and substance use disorder.”

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), substance use disorder is a “complex condition in which there is the uncontrolled use of a substance despite harmful consequence.” Habitually abusing drugs and/ or alcohol will affect the way one’s brain functions, as one’s body becomes increasingly accustomed to functioning with the presence of the substance in its system. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) assert that nearly half of the people “who have a mental [health] disorder will also have a substance use disorder at some point in their lives and vice versa.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that people diagnosed with substance use disorder are twice as likely to suffer from a mood or anxiety disorder than the general population. The most common co-occurring disorders will vary between men and women, but typically include the following:

    • Depression: As explained by the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is “characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities,” resulting in significant impairment in one’s daily life. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry asserts that more than one-third of Americans who struggle with substance abuse also suffer from depression. Depression is also three times more likely to develop in people with substance use disorder, than in the general population.
    • Anxiety disorders: The DSM-5 lists five different types of anxiety disorders which include: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). According to the American Psychiatric Association, close to thirty percent of adults in the US struggle with an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
    • Eating disorders: In a very broad sense, eating disorders are characterized by severe disturbances in people’s eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. The three main types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder (BED). Studies show that 50 percent of people with eating disorders also abuse drugs or alcohol. Those afflicted are five times more likely to abuse substances than the general population. Individuals who abuse drugs and/ or alcohol, similarly, are up to 11 times more likely to have eating disorders.
  • Personality disorders: as defined by the APA, personality disorders are “long-term patterns of behavior and inner experiences that differ significantly from what is expected.” The DSM-5 lists ten standalone personality disorders and based on similar characteristics, each personality disorder is grouped into one of three categories (cluster A, cluster B, and cluster C). Research has found that between 65 to 90 percent of patients being treated for substance abuse have at least one co-occurring personality disorder.

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At {Upwell Advisors}, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process. 

Feel free to reach to contact us anytime via email at [email protected] We look forward to supporting you on your journey.

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