Understanding Co-Occurring Disorders – Worksheet 1 (COD)

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CO-OCCURRING DISORDERS WORKSHEETS

A co-occurring disorder diagnosis indicates an alcohol- or drug-related disorder occurs alongside a mental health disorder.

The field of chemical dependency treatment is rapidly changing. With each passing year we have a greater understanding of how mental health issues affect substance abuse disorders. Additionally, substance abuse problems impact, launch, or exacerbate mental health problems.

Additionally, substance abuse problems impact, launch, or exacerbate mental health problems.

Many treatment programs are responding to the multifaceted interaction of substance use and mental health problems.

This lesson presents information imperative to understanding the complexity of co-occurring disorders and examines three very different approaches to treatment. Learn the strategies effective treatment programs have in common and explore some fundamental therapeutic interventions.

Good resources are necessary for good treatment.

DEFINING CO-OCCURRING DISORDERS

This handout will define co-occurring disorders and identify common mental health issues that accompany substance use.

A co-occurring disorder diagnosis indicates an alcohol- or drug-related disorder occurs alongside a mental health disorder.

The mental health disorder and the substance abuse disorder interact with each other and commonly increase the severity of both.

The term co-occurring disorder, also called a dual diagnosis disorder, does not imply one diagnosis is primary and the other is secondary.

And while one does not cause the other, there is good indication substance abuse issues make mental health issues worse and mental health issues increase the likelihood and the severity of substance abuse behaviors.

Generally speaking, one disorder may be more severe than another, although this may change over time.

WRITING YOUR STORY

Consider how substance use and mental health disorders have interacted in your life over time.

Have you had previous diagnoses of mental illness?

Have you suffered with anxiety, depression, bipolar illness, ADHD, or PTSD?

How have these co-occurring disorders impacted your life?

Write about specific incidences and the consequences that you have endured.

Several categories, or classifications, of common mental health issues are associated with co-occurring disorders. These include depression, anxiety, and other mood conditions such as bipolar and personality disorders. The symptoms of a mental health disorder may lead the client to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. For example, severe depression may lead a person to abuse alcohol or smoke methamphetamine. There is no standard pairing of a particular drug with a particular mental health disorder.

It is common for the mental health problem and the chemical dependency to increase in severity. Drug or alcohol abuse can frequently launch a major mental health episode which may have been dormant, or previously had very mild symptoms. Co-occurring disorder treatment must address the unique symptoms experienced by the client. Treatment must address both the substance abuse and underlying mental health disorder. For those with co-occurring disorders, treatment is designed to achieve abstinence from substance use, reduce mental health disorder symptoms, and prevent relapse.

MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

Many people addicted to alcohol or drugs suffer from mental health disorders, or will struggle with mental health problems at some point. Some people with untreated mental health problems start abusing drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate their emotional and psychological issues. In some cases, a person develops mental illness symptoms only after using drugs and alcohol, which suggests the substance abuse made the mental health problems worse.

TO BE CONTINUED IN WORKSHEETS…