After a person gets help for his addiction and begins a new life in recovery, he might feel like he has a big hole in his life that the substance abuse used to fill. But, now that he is substance-free, the problems in his life that he medicated with drugs may reappear and confuse him more than ever. In this situation, recovering drug addicts should follow specific steps to make sure recovery is both free from negative emotions, and that it is fulfilling.

Statistics on Substance Abuse and Co-occurring Disorders

The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 40.7 percent of the 20.7 million American adults with substance abuse disorders also have co-occurring mental health issues. This means that at least 8.4 million people struggle with both substance abuse and some other mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. It can be challenging to treat such co-occurring disorders, because often each problem can damage the other. For example, when someone abuses a drug, the effects of that substance can intensify the symptoms of a mental health issue. The way that the two disorders interact with each other can be unpredictable and dangerous, so it’s important for people with co-occurring disorders to receive integrated treatment, which provides professional care for both issues at the same time.

What Causes Co-occurring Disorders?

The reasons behind co-occurring disorders are diverse, but they often include at least one of the following factors:

  • A family history of mental illness, thus a genetic predisposition to one or both mental health conditions
  • One’s environment contributes to the development of one or both conditions
  • Abusing drugs to self-medicate the symptoms of the other condition
  • Drug abuse has led to the other condition due to the effects on the brain and body

If these factors affect you or a loved one, then seek professional help to address any issue you have with drugs or mental health.

How to Treat Co-occurring Disorders

It is challenging to manage any co-occurring disorders, but those related to drug abuse can be especially difficult to deal with, because, after people stop using drugs, they may be unsure of how to deal with the other mental health issue. However, SAMHSA’s Treatment Improvement Protocol #42 lists several ways people can recover from co-occurring disorders. In fact, healthcare professionals can help people with drug abuse and mental health problems in the following ways:

  • Address a person’s every need, whether they are related to medical, social or family issues
  • Customize treatment to the needs of people with functional impairments
  • Encourage patients to utilize support systems to augment recovery
  • Help people through different phases of recovery, which often consist of engagement, stabilization, treatment and aftercare
  • Treat recovery as an individualized, long-term process consisting of internal change

If a person that has just completed addiction rehab feels like life is empty, the most important thing she can do is to ask for help. Just as there is no shame in admitting that to addiction, there is also nothing wrong with telling someone about how life feels without drugs. Whether people talk to friends, family members, counselors or support group peers, they should talk to people they trust about their feelings, because it may provide the additional help to prevent relapse.

Find Treatment for Co-occurring Disorders

The process of addiction recovery can be overwhelming, because it often involves treatment not only for drug abuse, but also for any related physical, psychological or social problems. It is a difficult, but necessary process that, when handled with patience and care, can help people regain fulfillment and meaning in their lives. If you are struggling with an addiction or any stage of the recovery process, please give our toll-free helpline a call. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to discuss the recovery process with you. Call us today for instant, professional support.