As parents, you want to raise your kids so they understand how the world works, how to be around others, and how to make a livelihood for themselves. This becomes increasingly difficult as kids grow up and encounter harmful influences.
According to a youth.gov survey, in 2010, co-occurring disorders in youths and adolescents range from 60-75%.
Kids and adolescents are put under more pressure these days
There are higher demands – from peers and parents – to do the best in school, to be admitted into the top college, earn the best degree, and land a career-launching job.
Many youths, who feel burdened with all these pressures, might turn to drugs or alcohol to ease their stress. They could also be curious about drugs and alcohol and want to fit in with their friends.
Timely help can avert aggravation of symptoms
Other youths, who have depression or another mental disorder, do not realize it. Instead of seeking professional help, they may turn to drugs and alcohol to alleviate their symptoms.
No matter what the cause may be, co-occurring disorders is a serious issue you as parents need to handle. Staying informed about this topic is imperative in helping your child. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes for your child to complete treatment.
Getting your child the right treatment ensures they will learn how to cope with their mental disorders in a healthy manner and curb their addictive behaviors.
Doctors and specialists diagnose a patient with a co-occurring disorder as someone who is living with both a mental and substance abuse disorder.
Patients with a mental health disorder are more likely to have an alcohol or drug related issue.
Although there are many co-occurring disorders, some are more common:
People with this disorder have trouble relating to others and often behave abnormally and damagingly. It’s common for these people to have a drinking problem, which intensifies their symptoms.
Cocaine and Anxiety Disorder
Cocaine generates paranoia and violent behaviors. People might also experience hallucinations, insomnia, or deviousness. Cocaine mimics the symptoms of anxiety.
Heroin and Depression
People with depression sometimes turn to heroin. The drug produces a blissful effect. Depressed people become dependent on the drug to feel happiness or completeness.
Opioids and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
People with the disorder often have intrusive thoughts, abstain from activities, and nightmares. To cope with these bothering symptoms, they often turn to drugs. From the other side, opioids mimic the symptoms of PTSD.
Marijuana and Schizophrenia
People who have schizophrenia can behave in socially inappropriate ways and have other societal problems. It’s common to see schizophrenic patients develop a drug addiction.
Your child might have one of these co-occurring disorders or a different one. It’s important to learn the general signs and symptoms early on.
Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders
There are many co-occurring disorders your child could have. It’s hard to distinguish between the most prevalent ones.
There are common symptoms among the co-occurring disorders listed above. This will help you determine if your child even has a co-occurring disorder or if they are going through a phase.
These are the 14 most common signs and symptoms:
- Getting high on a regular basis
- Lying about drug activity
- Avoiding friends to drink or do drugs
- Quitting activities to drink or do drugs
- Planning to use drugs in advance
- Using drugs or alcohol more frequently to get the same effect
- Associating drugs or alcohol as the only way to have fun
- Having hangovers often
- Peer-pressuring their friends
- Feeling run-down, hopeless, or depressed
- Becoming egotistical
- Showing a lack of care for themselves or others
- Discussing drugs or alcohol often
- Getting into trouble with the law or school
If these signs and symptoms aren’t caught early, it can lead to more complications in the future.
People with co-occurring disorders are at a risk for:
- Financial insecurity
- Isolation from friends and family
- Suicidal thoughts
- Violent behaviors
- Other illnesses such as HIV
- Premature Death
Treatment options available
Traditionally, drug addiction and mental health disorders were treated separately. However, it’s now recognized that these disorders work hand in hand and should be treated simultaneously.
Treatment is most successful if the two are treated together in an integrated program. Most programs will combine the most effective treatments for both drug addiction and mental disorders.
A rigorous treatment centre will have well trained and experienced staff who are specialized in integrated treatment programs.
Well-designed treatment programs have these components:
- Supervised medical detox: Support and monitor are available to patients going through withdrawal. Patients with help are more likely to not relapse.
- Assessment: Evaluation of a patient’s symptoms is key. The assessment helps give an accurate diagnosis and even reveal potential complications.
- Diagnosis: This is based on the patient’s assessment. Specialists gain a complete picture of the patient’s relationship with their mental disorder and drug addiction. All of which can help plan their treatment.
- Treatment plan: A combination of pharmaceutical and therapy sessions to manage mental health and curb relapse and addictive behaviors.
- Personal therapy: Therapists sit one-on-one with their patients. The goal is to provide a safe space to discuss their past, present, and future goals.
- Group Therapy: Offers a setting where patients with the same health disorders can help others get through common problems.
- Family Therapy: Helps family members be supportive of their loved one and build stronger relationships. This also helps family members work through any issues they had before the patient sought treatment.
- Aftercare plan: Therapists create a plan with treatment services. Its aim is to help the patient transition from outpatient care to living on their own.
- Aftercare services and support: Therapists also can create a plan on a continual basis. This ensures a smoother transition to independent living and a lower relapse percentage.
How to help your child
When you’re considering treatment options, here are a few questions to ask:
- How extensive does your child’s treatment need to be?
- Does the facility offer integrated treatment programs?
- How much does a treatment program cost?
- Does the facility accept my health insurance?
Final take away
If you think your child has a co-occurring disorder it is important to educate yourself about it and show your love and support.