Co-Occurring Treatment For Substance or Alcohol Addiction & Associated Mental Health Diagnoses

Updated: Oct 31, 2018

Co-Occurring Treatment For Substance or Alcohol Addiction & Associated Mental Health Diagnoses

Today, mental health issues are prevalent in the United States – one in five adults experience some occurrence within a given year. And while many people manage to cope with their condition, for 9.8 million people, that mental illness becomes a serious affliction that limits or interferes with their everyday life.

Unfortunately, those suffering from mental health problems – like PTSD, personality disorders, anxiety, and depression – are frequently vulnerable to addiction and the devastating toll it can take on their personal and professional lives.

This problem is even further compounded when someone already struggling under the heavy burden of mental illness also struggles with addiction or substance abuse.

Potential Signs of Co-Occurring Addiction & Mental Health Conditions

There are multiple signs and symptoms that can suggest co-occurring conditions, and to truly find out if you or a loved one are struggling under the weight of both, it’s important that you seek the help of a qualified care provider. However, the following signs can typically act as indicators.

  • A history of mental illness

Prior mental illness is often the strongest indicator of an existing or potential mental health condition.  Though substance abuse may not have been present in the past, if you or a loved one has suffered from a diagnosed medical condition in the past, it’s likely that it can continue to have an effect and lead to or thrive under substance abuse.

A history of mental illness within your family can also indicate an increased risk of dual conditions.  This is not necessarily limited to mental illness passed down from parent to child. Instead, it can also be any childhood exposure to mental illness, which can imprint unhealthy copying skills or other mental health issues without a hereditary link.

  • Using substances to escape problems

Recent life changes, particularly negative ones, like death, divorce, job loss, etc., can leave some searching for a way to cope with the emotional distress. If you or your loved one are turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with prevailing emotional distress, a mental illness, like depression, may be further contributing to substance abuse tendencies.

  • An attempt to quit leads to hostility, violence, or suicidal thoughts.

Quitting a substance can be difficult for anyone, but those that struggle with a mental condition may find it to be significantly more difficult.  In some cases, it can lead to self-harm, unprovoked hostility, and suicidal thoughts. If those feelings or actions are present during an attempt to quit, then it can be indicative of an underlying mental condition.

Seeking Treatment for Co-Occurring Conditions

Co-occurring addiction and mental health issues add a layer of complexity to substance abuse care, combining the trials and tribulations of mental health issues with further impaired cognitive dependence and reasoning.

To further complicate the issue, many addicts aren’t aware of their mental health issues or have not received a formal diagnosis.  For those reasons, treatments of these co-occurring diseases can be difficult and frequently requires a highly personalized continuum of care.

What does this end-to-end treatment solution look like?  In this case, as with many others within the addiction and rehabilitation community, the solution is one that is highly dependent on the patient’s unique situation.

This includes the severity of mental health issues and/or substance dependency and patient’s personal and professional obligations, which may dictate what type of treatment program they can feasibly enroll in.

There are two primary rehabilitation programs to which a patient can enter: short-term and long-term. For patients struggling with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health issues, either treatment methods typically begin with an intense intake process that includes an initial assessment and ends with a customized program that is used to determine the long-term roadmap to recovery.

Because of the dueling struggles that often face those with mental and addiction problems, our Florida facility-based programs are typically strongly based in psychotherapy and include a one-on-one counseling component, as well as the potential to incorporate group and family therapy, life skills training, and other staple sessions proven to be effective in both mental health and addiction recovery.

Short-term Treatment

Short-term treatment typically last anywhere from four to six weeks and is often compatible with the needs of patients who, due to professional or personal obligations, simply can’t engage in a treatment program that last several months.

Despite a shorter stay, the Evolutions Treatment Center short-term co-occurring treatment program offer intensive care and supervisions, with sessions lasting six or more hours.  During these sessions, patients have access to comprehensive therapeutic services as well as a continuum of care to help them return to a new, sober life.

Long-term Care

Long-term co-occurring substance abuse treatment programs are designed to last three or more month.  Though many patients experience success with short-term treatment, patients that have long-standing or reoccurring abuse, or those that are suffering with severe addiction may find that a long-term treatment program is more beneficial.

Patients enrolled in the long-term program will participate in continuous treatment while in our care (several hours a day, seven days a week).  Throughout the program, patients are evaluated and upon reaching specific mile stones, graduate to the next level, allowing for steady and supportive care throughout the duration of their stay.


Co-occurring addiction and mental health conditions can make it increasingly difficult for a person to seek help and, once provided with it, to maintain a sober life post-treatment.

As such, one of the most important things anyone can do when seeking treatment for co-occurring condition is to work with facilities trained to manage both substance abuse and mental illness.  This will provide a solid foundation on which to build recovery and return to a stable, drug-free, and safe life beyond in-patient treatment.