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What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

The existence of a substance abuse problem with a mental health problem is called dual-diagnosis or co-occurrence. It simply refers to two or more disorders or illnesses occurring in the same person. Among those with substance abuse problems, the most common co-occurring mental health problems include depression, anxiety and trauma-related issues. There is also a subset of individuals with more severe mental health problems, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.


It's More Common than You Think.

"Alcohol dependence is 4 times as likely to occur among adults that have a mental health problem."
--National Survey on Drug Use and Health, SAMHSA 5/31/11


Why Does Co-Occurrence Happen?

It is a bit of a "chicken-and-the-egg" theory of which disorder came first. For people who are living with symptoms of depression, anxiety or a more severe mental disorder, and they are not receiving treatment, they may turn to alcohol or drugs to ease the pain. In short, they are "self medicating." Can the addiction come first? Some medical professionals believe that addiction can change the brain in significant ways, and the compulsive behavior of substance abusers can be similar to the symptoms of mental illnesses. Also, certain drugs can cause psychosis or other mental health issues as a side effect.

Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment

Co-Occurring Disorders TreatmentTreatment for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Problems

If someone you know has an alcohol or drug abuse problem, it can seem like a huge issue in and of itself. Yet many individuals who have substance abuse problems also have mental health problems. In fact, the presence of a co-occurring problem is more the "rule" than the exception.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Gateway Foundation is a recognized leader among behavioral health care providers in offering substance abuse treatment, as well as treatment for individuals that are diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder.

With more than 40 years of treatment experience, our professional staff provides you with the individualized care needed to treat co-occurring problems to ensure lasting recovery. Our integrated treatment plans are designed to concurrently address an individual's substance abuse and mental health problems.

Depending on the level of treatment needed, we offer Outpatient Treatment Programs that won't interfere with school/work commitments, or Residential and Day Treatment Programs if an individual needs more structure and support.

Using an Integrated Approach to Treat Co-Occurring Problems

There is great interaction and influence between substance abuse and mental health problems in many individuals. That is why the most effective treatment of dual diagnosed disorders is called "integrated treatment."

"At Gateway Foundation Treatment Centers, we use integrated treatment to address co-occurring substance abuse and mental health problems at the same time, in the same program by the same treatment team," explains Dr. Phil Welches, Clinical Director for Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment. "It's imperative to treat these problems together, as an untreated mental health problem is a common cause of substance relapse. For example, a person who is depressed or anxious and is self-medicating with alcohol or other drugs may feel some very temporary relief, but this usually occurs at the expense of developing even more serious life and emotional problems. Work, relationship, financial, self-esteem and legal problems may develop or worsen. By treating the individual in an integrated way, Gateway is truly helping the person become free from a very destructive cycle."

The most common reason for substance abuse relapse...

an untreated mental health problem.

According to reports from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Gateway Foundation treats co-occurring disorders through comprehensive treatment programs that use proven, or "evidence-based" approaches and best practices. How can a practitioner and individual being treated know that the treatment is effective? Gateway measures the effectiveness using established tools such as the Dartmouth Medical School-developed "Dual Diagnosis Capable in Addictions Treatment (DDCAT) Index. Gateway Foundation programs are assessed and reassessed with the DDCAT in order to modify treatment as needed and strengthen integrated treatment within its programs.

As part of this commitment to effective treatment, Gateway is a member of the national, Dartmouth-based DDCAT Collaborative. In fact, after assessing one of Gateway's programs at the Chicago West Treatment Center, Dr. Mark McGovern, faculty of Dartmouth Medical School and the primary developer of the DDCAT, wrote that the Gateway program was "as dually diagnosed enhanced as any program I have seen."

Learn more about Gateway's Treatment Programs, Counseling Therapy & Education or Evidenced-Based Practices.


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