woman resting on back of couch has co-occurring disordersMedical professionals refer to having a mental illness as well as an addiction as co-occurring disorders. Many people who suffer from addiction have some type of mental illness as a result of addiction or as a pre-existing condition. One of the leading risk factors for developing an addiction is an undiagnosed or untreated mental illness. Because of this, it’s important to find a facility that offers some sort of dual diagnosis treatment.

One of the primary issues in the United States is that we don’t teach our youth about the importance of mental health. Many people don’t even know what the signs or symptoms of mental health disorders are. Without education about mental illnesses, people don’t know what to do when they begin to feel different. This can be scary. It’s quite common for people to turn to alcohol or drugs as a way of dealing with the symptoms.

Some of the most common mental illnesses that co-occur with addiction include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • ADHD

Understanding Anxiety with Co-Occurring Disorders

The most common mental illness that people with an addiction suffer from is anxiety. This disease can be entirely debilitating. The reason why anxiety is so common is because when a person develops an addiction, his or her whole life revolves around obtaining drugs. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand how anxiety works. It’s far worse than just experiencing stress. Anxiety affects a part of the brain that’s responsible for our natural fight, flight or freeze response.

For people who don’t have an anxiety disorder, a part of the brain called the amygdala activates when they’re in some kind of danger. Once the danger is no longer present, the amygdala de-activates and the symptoms of anxiety go away.

On the other hand, the amygdala doesn’t deactivate for people who have anxiety disorders. In addition, there are different forms of anxiety that don’t need to have any type of specific trigger.

How Addiction Treatment Helps Co-Occurring Disorders

Without taking a look at your mental health issues in addition to your addiction, your chances of staying sober are very slim. As you saw with the explanation of how anxiety works, it’s very difficult to live a happy, fulfilling, sober life without treatment. The symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental illness can make it seem like drugs or alcohol are the best options. When you receive specific treatment for your mental illness, you have better options.

In addiction treatment, you’ll work in a private environment with a therapist who will help you overcome your co-occurring disorders. For some people, mental illness symptoms have a trigger, so you can learn how to avoid these triggers. Others have unavoidable triggers and have to use different methods to cope with their symptoms. In some cases, people in early recovery take non-narcotic medications for mental illness as well.

Mindfulness Meditation Therapy

The goal of treatment is to help you free yourself from substances. Mindfulness meditation therapy is an ideal way to achieve this. As a completely holistic practice, mindfulness teaches you how to regain control of your own mind. Mindfulness is an ability that everyone has, but many people don’t know how to cultivate. This practice involves learning how to accept whatever is happening in the present moment without judgment.

Becoming familiar with mindfulness practices allows you to face your symptoms of anxiety or depression head-on. There are also studies that show that mindfulness is as effective as some of the best antidepressant medications. Other studies show how regular mindfulness practice improves concentration and reduces ADHD symptoms. If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness and other ways to begin healing, call Crestview Recovery today at 866.262.0531.