Co-Occurring Disorders

You’ve frequently found yourself struggling with your reactions to certain situations. Perhaps you clam up in social settings and your mind races during conversations with strangers. Maybe you have days or weeks at work where no matter what you try, you feel hopeless and can’t get motivated to do anything. Sometimes these issues escalate; you’ve had to leave outings with friends early because you felt panicky, or you’ve missed important appointments because you simply couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.

But these problems were always overshadowed by something more glaring: addiction. Perhaps it was these deep-seated feelings of worry or sadness that drove you to drugs and alcohol to begin with — having a drink or two at a party made you less anxious, and you always felt more energetic after a bump of coke in the morning. When your substance abuse spiraled out of control, it became time to finally get help.

But in cases like yours, getting sober might not be enough. The likelihood of relapse is high — once you’re back in independent life, nothing is preventing you from turning to substance abuse to handle anxiety or depression again. The solution lies in specialized treatment for co-occurring disorders, the industry term for situations where a patient is diagnosed with both addiction and a mental health disorder.

Mental Health and Addiction: A Common Combination

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that roughly 45% of all adults who struggle with substance abuse also have a mental health disorder. The two frequently go hand in hand — they tend to play off each other in a way that makes an individual more prone to symptoms of each problem. In some instances, living with a mental health disorder drives a person to self-medicate with illicit, addictive substances. In others, the mental health impact of addiction worsens problems like anxiety and depression. For some, it eventually becomes a chicken-and-egg scenario, where it’s nearly impossible to tell which one gave rise to the other.

No matter where your co-occurring disorders began, it’s vital to get treatment for both. Treating only one leaves you vulnerable for relapse; you are in danger of the remaining problem triggering the other in the future. Research is increasingly showing the benefits of combined mental health and substance abuse treatment, and recovery treatment providers like The Kimberly Center are responding in kind by offering specific programs for patients with co-occurring disorders.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders at The Kimberly Center 

At The Kimberly Center, we are equipped to provide specialized care for individuals who have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and with an anxiety disorder or clinical depression. Our staff includes trained medical professionals who are here to work closely with you as you begin your journey to sobriety and mental wellness. Our mission to provide holistic addiction treatment — healing for the mind, body and spirit — lends itself perfectly to caring for patients with co-occurring disorders. We believe in the connection between mental and physical health, and we always aim to help our clients find balanced healing for complete recovery and a strong foundation to avoid relapse.

We also know that holistic treatment provides sustainable solutions for patients with co-occurring disorders. Addiction-only rehab, mental health therapy and medications only offer short-term solutions to the problems at hand. They treat the symptoms, but don’t give patients the tools to continue managing those symptoms once they leave treatment or no longer medicate. With targeted recovery treatment, you can find ways to stay sober and healthy that come from within, rather than relying on external sources for relief.

Depression and Addiction 

Depression is one of the most frequently misunderstood mental health disorders, which also makes it one of the most dangerous. Too often, depression is brushed off as a bad mood, a pessimistic personality or a rough patch in life. But true clinical depression is marked by long-lasting feelings of sadness, hopelessness or exhaustion that permeate everything in life — even things that the affected individual normally loves and enjoys. These feelings can interfere with an individual’s ability to get through even the simplest of tasks like bathing or getting out of bed. The dark cloud of depression even drives many people to attempt suicide, so it’s vital not to ignore symptoms in yourself or someone close to you.

It’s very tempting to make these bad feelings go away with drugs or alcohol. But depression is actually a known side effect of substance abuse. It’s a common part of withdrawal or the “comedown” from many drugs. When you use drugs or alcohol, they flood your brain with chemicals that produce artificial feelings of pleasure, euphoria or energy. But when these effects wear off, you’re left feeling drained and worse than when you began. It’s easy to believe that you need to keep using drugs or alcohol to avoid letting depression return, but this urge to continually use substances to feel happy is a fast track to addiction.

Anxiety and Addiction

An estimated 40 million Americans struggle with anxiety, including social anxiety, panic disorder and general anxiety. Anxiety is characterized by a feeling of extreme worry, fear or apprehension about a variety of situations, from meeting new people to getting in a car. Alternatively, you may find that anxious feelings arise randomly during your day — you might live in fear that a debilitating panic attack could occur at any moment. These disorders can cast a shadow over everyday life by preventing you from enjoying yourself in situations that trigger your anxiety. You may feel trapped by your anxiety, unable to perform at work or engage with friends due to an overwhelming worry that things could go wrong at any moment. 

Much like depression, it’s easy to turn to substances to mask symptoms of anxiety. In fact, prescription anxiety medications like Xanax or Valium are addictive themselves — if taken incorrectly, you could be putting yourself at risk for addiction even if you aren’t purposefully taking these drugs recreationally. Other drugs and alcohol also don’t offer long-term solutions for anxiety, instead providing temporary relief that ends with renewed feelings of anxiety when the substance’s effects wear off. Trying to use substances to control this mental health disorder can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.

About Our Programs

When it comes to treating co-occurring substance abuse and depression or anxiety, it’s most important to help the individual find ways to combat depressive or anxious feelings without relying on substances. At The Kimberly Center, we teach holistic methods of addiction and mental health management — a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, ongoing therapeutic support and mindfulness are all proven methods of reducing mental health symptoms that provide long-lasting solutions.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, and has either been diagnosed with depression or anxiety or is exhibiting symptoms, we encourage you to reach out to us today. Our recovery center in Fort Myers, Florida, welcomes men and women like you who are ready to begin their healing journey. Contact us at 855-452-3683 to learn more about our programs and to find out what we can do to help you overcome co-occurring disorders.