Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders and Addiction

Double the trouble, double the stigma: being diagnosed with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders can make recovery feel impossible. The reality is that co-occurring mental health disorders are more common in the recovery community than we think. In fact, there’s a lot you need to know- let’s start with these 5 things:

#1: Mental Health Disorders and Addiction Feed Each Other

When it comes to substance abuse due to an undiagnosed and untreated mental health disorders, what people don’t understand is that the two feed each other. We self-medicate, tricked into believing illicit substances are the only way to make life manageable. Fear and dread of facing the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms of withdrawal make us hesitate to embark on the journey of recovery. This hesitation is a defense mechanism for the addicted mind- the greatest gift you could give yourself is sobriety.

#2: You Can’t Treat One Without the Other

Addiction is a symptom of underlying issues that need to be addressed along the path of recovery. Attempting to treat one without addressing the other creates a slippery slope to relapse. The reason so many who attempt sobriety on their own are more likely to experience relapse is because co-occurring mental health disorders remain unaddressed. Release that which holds you bound to addiction and learn how beautiful life can be.

#3: Your Diagnosis is Not Your Destiny

Being diagnosed with a chronic disease or disorder may seem like a brand- like the end of all things, a life sentence. It’s not. Trust me, neither addiction nor co-occurring mental health disorders have any more say over your future than you allow. Learning what your mental health disorder means for you and personal tools for coping will allow you to live the life you want.

#4: Mental Health Disorders Don’t Make You Weak

As people who have experienced addiction, we know how harmful stigmas can be. Stigmas surrounding mental illness are just as damaging. Accepting and learning how to thrive with any number of mental health disorders begins with recognizing that seeking and accepting help doesn’t make you weak. Don’t feel guilt or shame for taking the necessary medication. Taking care of yourself is essential both to you mental health and your continued sobriety.

#5: Self-Care is Essential to Recovery

In line with the previous point, self-care is an important aspect of your new, sober life. Being aware of and protecting your mental state is paramount to maintaining long-term recovery. Throughout your journey you learn what works for you in dealing with triggers and low points. Utilize those tricks and tools to keep you firmly on the right path.


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