For some teenage boys who are struggling with substance use disorders, co-occurring mental health conditions may be a contributing factor. Depression and anxiety disorders are common among adolescents, and they can make it more likely for teens to turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to self-medicate. If your son is exhibiting the signs of co-occurring disorders, it’s important to get him the help he needs to address both problems.
Foothills at Red Oak Recovery provides effective, evidence-based treatment for adolescent boys in a safe and supportive environment. Our programs are designed to help teens overcome substance use disorders and any underlying mental health conditions. With the right treatment, your son can recover from addiction and build a foundation for a healthy and successful future. Reach out to our team at 866.300.5275 today to learn more.
What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?
Co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, refer to the presence of two or more disorders in a single individual. In the context of a substance use disorder, this means that a person is struggling with both the substance use issue and a mental health condition. Co-occurring disorders are relatively common, with research indicating that around half of all people who struggle with a substance use disorder also have a mental health disorder.
Some of the most common mental health concerns that can co-occur with a substance use disorder include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
The signs of co-occurring disorders will vary depending on the specific disorders involved.
5 Signs You Have Co-Occurring Disorders
There are some general signs that may indicate that a person is struggling with both a substance use disorder and a mental health condition:
1. Using Drugs to Deal with Depression and Anxiety
One of the most common signs of co-occurring disorders is using drugs to deal with the symptoms of mental health. A person who is depressed, anxious, or experiencing PTSD is more likely to self-medicate using alcohol or drugs. A good way to know if this is happening is to consider what happens when they are not using substances. Do the symptoms of mental health improve when they are sober? If not, it’s likely that they are using drugs as a way to cope with their mental health.
2. Trouble Keeping Up with Responsibilities
Many of those who have this condition also struggle to maintain the responsibilities they have. This includes things like school or meeting obligations at home. You may notice them falling behind in school or not being able to complete chores around the house. This is often a result of the mental health symptoms they are experiencing as well as the time and energy they are putting into their substance use.
3. Withdrawal and Cravings
Addiction can lead to dependency. That means a person continues to use drugs and alcohol because the brain requires it. When you stop taking drugs or drinking, you may have intense pain, headaches, agitation, and cravings for it. This is an indication of addiction. This, coupled with depression or anxiety, can make it very hard to stop using on your own.
4. Social Trouble
Is your teen struggling to fit in at home or at school? Do they feel like they cannot make themselves be social? This is not uncommon. It is very common for a person with co-occurring disorders to become more and more isolated, causing them to retreat from friends and family members.
5. Medical Concerns
The prolonged use of drugs and alcohol leads to health problems. This may include concerns related to liver and kidney disease. It may also result in heart damage, cognitive function decline, and a heightened risk of memory loss. For teen boys, this is especially concerning as they are still developing.
Finding Effective Co-Occurring Treatment
Treatment for co-occurring disorders must address both the mental health disorder and the addiction. This is because they are both interconnected and impact each other. Without treating both, it is very difficult to effectively manage either one.
The following strategies and techniques can be used to help individuals with co-occurring disorders:
- Integrated treatment – This approach combines both mental health and substance use therapies in one treatment plan addressing each disorder simultaneously. Integrated treatment combines pharmacology, therapy, and other evidence-based treatments to provide comprehensive care.
- Addiction treatment – Addiction treatment is focused on helping individuals identify triggers for substance use, manage cravings and build coping skills to avoid relapse. Treatment also helps individuals understand the root causes of their substance use and develop strategies to address them.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT helps individuals replace negative and unhelpful thinking patterns with healthier ones. By recognizing the links between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, individuals can learn to manage their emotions and make healthier decisions.
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) – MAT combines medications with counseling and other support services to provide a comprehensive approach to treatment. Medications help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, allowing individuals to focus on their recovery.
- Family counseling – Families play an important role in the recovery process. Involving family members can help provide support, increase understanding and create healthy new patterns of communication
- Support groups – Support groups provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to share their experiences, learn new skills and build meaningful connections with peers. They can help individuals stay motivated and on track with their recovery goals.
These treatments are just a few of the many approaches that can be used to help individuals with co-occurring disorders. It is important to work with a mental health professional who can develop an individualized treatment plan that works best for each person.
Reach Out to the Foothills at Red Oak Recovery Team for Immediate Help
At Foothills at Red Oak Recovery, we are here to help your family through this difficult time. We understand how co-occurring disorders can impact every aspect of a person’s life. Through a variety of evidence-based treatment methods, we can help your teen effectively manage both their mental health disorder and addiction. These include:
- Drug addiction treatment
- Alcohol addiction treatment
- Depression treatment
- Anxiety treatment
- Co-occurring disorders treatment