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What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

Many people diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD) have co-occurring mental health issues. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “People with substance use disorders are at particular risk for developing one or more primary conditions or chronic diseases.” One 2021 study reported that “approximately 9.2 million adults in the United States have a co-occurring disorder.” Avery Lane uses evidence-based treatments to help women in recovery manage co-occurring disorders.

How Do Untreated Co-Occurring Disorders Impact Recovery?

Women recovering from SUD may experience more severe or longer-lasting symptoms if they have untreated co-occurring disorders. However, mental health disorders may remain undiagnosed due to overlapping symptoms with SUD. An accurate diagnosis and professional mental health treatment provide essential support for individuals in recovery.

If left untreated, co-occurring disorders have the potential to do the following:

  • Reduce the effectiveness of therapy and other treatments
  • Increase overall stress
  • Reduce self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Increase symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Worsen symptoms of SUD
  • Make it more difficult to form positive social connections

Avery Lane prioritizes whole-being treatment and uses personalized, integrative care to address all co-occurring and underlying issues. In addition, comprehensive admissions assessments ensure clinicians have an accurate diagnosis to reference during treatment planning.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Often, co-occurring disorders are left untreated for prolonged periods before a person begins treatment for SUD. Individuals with SUD are more likely to experience more severe mental health symptoms during early recovery if their mental health disorders are left undiagnosed or untreated.

Women in treatment may have unique co-occurring disorders, including postpartum depression (PPD). However, some of the most common co-occurring disorders diagnosed alongside SUD include:

  • Bipolar disorder (BD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Specific phobias, including agoraphobia
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Everyone reacts differently to co-occurring disorders. In addition, the symptoms exist along a spectrum and may overlap with SUD. Clinical assessments ensure clients get the help they need to heal. Avery Lane uses various assessments and screening tools to ensure clients receive an accurate diagnosis for any co-occurring mental health disorders.

How to Recognize Signs of Co-Occurring Disorders

The symptoms and side effects of a mental health disorder depend on various factors, including family history, genetics, age, environment, and gender. Women may have different symptoms and warning signs compared to men. Young adults with co-occurring disorders may also react very differently to older adults. Context is important. The care team at Avery Lane considers all factors when treating clients in recovery.

Women and their families benefit from knowing how to recognize the signs of co-occurring disorders. Some of the most common warning signs include:

  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Ambivalence about overall health or daily activities
  • Unusual changes to appetite causing noticeable weight gain or loss
  • Lethargy, exhaustion, and sleep disturbances
  • Abrupt changes in energy levels
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Unusual irritation, anger, or aggression
  • Uncharacteristic lack of personal hygiene
  • Difficulty completing everyday tasks, including cooking, dressing, or cleaning

People need to remain aware of any changes to their thoughts or routines. Small behavioral changes may indicate significant mental health issues. For example, suddenly having difficulty preparing for work most days or an unusual and prolonged disinterest in previously enjoyed activities may indicate a person has developed a mental health disorder.

Medical Stabilization and Assessments at Avery Lane

Mental and physical stabilization is essential during early recovery. Individuals diagnosed with SUD and co-occurring mental health disorders require personalized treatments to ensure the best outcome. Avery Lane uses multiple tools to determine what treatment may best support someone in recovery.

Medical stabilization may involve the following:

  • Complete psychiatric and medical assessments
  • Naturopathy
  • IV vitamin therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Additional holistic therapies

New clients may undergo screening with a physician and psychiatrist during the medical stabilization and assessment period. The clinicians review all current medications and use GeneSight Genetic Testing to determine which medications best fit each client’s DNA.

What Is GeneSight Testing?

GeneSight psychotropic testing is only conducted by certified clinical professionals. The test provides clinicians with information about variations in a client’s DNA. According to the GeneSight Overview page on, “The GeneSight Psychotropic test is a pharmacogenomic test that analyzes clinically important genetic variations which may impact how your patient metabolizes and responds to certain medications used to treat depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other psychiatric conditions.” Clinicians use the test to help determine what treatment options best fit a client’s circumstances. Women in recovery rely on their care team to use tools like GeneSight to provide them with the most effective treatments.

Treatment Options at Avery Lane

Simultaneous treatment for co-occurring disorders is essential to avoid complications during recovery. According to MedlinePlus, “Someone with a dual diagnosis must treat both conditions . . . Treatments may include behavioral therapies and medicines.” Women at Avery Lane collaborate closely with their care team to address any active or underlying issues affecting their health.

Clients manage co-occurring disorders during early recovery using the following services:

  • Case management
  • Medication management
  • Family support services
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Aftercare planning

Many people diagnosed with SUD have co-occurring mental health issues that require simultaneous treatment. However, co-occurring disorders are not always easy to diagnose. Avery Lane uses various tools to ensure all clients are accurately diagnosed. Treatment for co-occurring disorders usually involves a combination of psychotherapy, peer support, prescription medication, and complementary therapies. Clients control their own recovery and collaborate with the care team to develop an individualized care plan. Avery Lane provides every woman in recovery with the support and guidance she needs to heal and thrive.

Avery Lane is a treatment center for women and prioritizes gender-specific and trauma-informed care for all clients to ensure the best possible outcomes. To learn more about our programs and services, call us today at (800) 270-2406.

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