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How To Treat Addiction With Co-Occurring Disorders

  • June 6, 2022
  • 8 min read
How To Treat Addiction With Co-Occurring Disorders

Addiction comes in different forms and varies from one person to the next. One may be addicted to gambling, sex, alcohol, or drugs. The problem with addiction is that it has a dangerous effect on physical, emotional, and mental wellness and, if left untreated, can lead to long-term suffering or death.

Co-occurring disorders can be depression, anxiety, and bipolar, for example. Usually, addiction and mental health disorders are intertwined, as addiction is seen as an escape. When one experiences a mental illness, they feel heavy, hopeless, and helpless in some aspects of their lives. The temporary high that gambling, drugs, and alcohol give becomes addictive.

There are varying forms of treatment if you or your loved one are experiencing addiction with co-occurring disorders, and here are some of those.

  1. Rehabilitation Therapy

Rehabilitation therapy means checking into a rehabilitation center where you get assistance to overcome addiction and manage mental disorders from licensed therapists. 

Forms of assistance that you can expect from a rehabilitation center, as found at Jacksonhouserehab.com, include:

  • Mental Illness Diagnosis

Mental illnesses need to be diagnosed by professionals as a self-diagnosis based on general information gathered is inaccurate and can be dangerous. Professionals at a rehabilitation center can diagnose a mental illness if you are experiencing symptoms such as severe sadness, appetite loss, insomnia, extreme fatigue, and addiction. There are various kinds of mental illnesses, and it would take a series of tests and processes for an accurate diagnosis.

  • Assessments

Realizing, admitting, or accepting that you may have an addiction is not always a smooth journey. Perhaps you’ve heard from other loved ones that they are worried that you have an alcohol addiction, yet you believe that you enjoy indulging in a few drinks. Maybe you have also taken a few online quizzes to determine whether you have an addiction. The results indicated that the possibility was high; you were skeptical of a random questionnaire and ignored the fact.

Checking into a rehabilitation center after people encourage you from what they would have observed may be a positive decision. The professionals know how to walk the journey with you where your first steps are to acknowledge that you have a particular addiction. They will then help you understand why it’s classified as an addiction and not a mere activity and share the possible dangers that come with the addiction. Only then will you be on your path to holistic wellness.

African man counselor therapist coach psychologist speak at group counseling therapy session concept encourage support patients in addiction talk share problem sit in circle in rehab, close up view
  • A Sober Environment

If you manage to reach levels of sobriety from your addiction but slip back into destructive habits, a rehabilitation center is positive for the sober environment it provides. It’s extremely difficult to remain sober in a household that constantly has alcohol because family members enjoy a drink or two after dinner. This may be a trigger for you, and before you know it, you’re back to square one.

You can find rehab centers that offer sober living residences where professionals guide your recovery process. You’ll be surrounded by people experiencing the same process, making it a conducive environment for recovery with fewer distractions and triggers.

  1. Learn A Skill

Learning a new skill may help you through the process of treating addiction with co-occurring disorders in that you fill up time with positive thoughts, skills, and activities. For example, the time you spend drinking alcohol may be replaced with the time you spend learning a new language, sport, or craft. Learning a new skill requires mental muscle, meaning that the negative thoughts of co-occurring disorders may quiet.

You can discover new skills to learn from various social media platforms or a general engine search. You can also explore your community, discover the various activity clubs, and consider joining one to learn a skill.

You can make learning a skill more engaging if you go at it with peers. You can invite trusted friends and family to join you on your quest as they too learn with you. That way, you also turn it into a mini socialization opportunity rather than make it a chore.

 3. Travel

If you’re able to travel, you may be able to treat addiction with co-occurring disorders.Traveling is also a positive way of filling up your time with experiences. The time that you take discovering new areas of your city, country, or abroad; means that it’s the time taken away from participating in addictive activities.

For your travels to be successful and not turn into one where you fall into substance abuse along the way, you need to plan intentionally. When it comes to accommodation, you may need to stay in places that aren’t arms-length from the bars, for example, if alcohol is an addiction. This means you may need to consider traveling to national parks where you can pitch your tent or live in designated camping areas. This kind of travel is positive because you get to spend time in nature, which helps alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, which may be a couple of the co-occurring disorders.

If gambling is the addiction that you’re fighting to overcome, you may need to stay away from tourist places that are notorious for casinos, as you’ll be triggered to spend your time gambling. You may also want to travel with just enough money to get by so you don’t feel tempted to splurge on addictive items.

  1. Rest

Rest is crucial for your wellness. You may find that you start craving substances when you feel extremely tired. The substances may help to give you a temporary energy boost and help you achieve certain tasks that you may have needed to. However, when the high wears off, you’ll be left feeling more exhausted than you were before. Extreme exhaustion also heightens symptoms of mental illness, placing you in a very difficult emotional, physical, and mental state.

On the other hand, resting doesn’t negatively affect your mental wellness as substances do. Resting may look like enjoying a sitcom, sleeping, sitting on your balcony, enjoying a long telephone call with a friend, or engaging in a relaxing activity such as walking through the park. Let your body and mind to reach a state of relaxation, and keep in mind that you don’t need to always be on the go.

5. Be Intentional About Your Diet

Food plays a major role when it comes to addiction and mental wellness. For instance, if you indulge in food at a sports bar, you’re bound to buy a burger sold at a special price if you buy it together with a bucket of beers. Perhaps you intended to enjoy a sports game on the big screen while eating your dinner. However, the environment is such that the food you eat is accompanied by alcohol. On the other hand, preparing meals at home reduces the risk of eating your home-cooked food accompanied by a beer bucket.

Fresh foods such as vegetables and fruit go well with smoothies, fresh juice, and water. Not only do you enjoy the freshness of the food, your brain benefits from the nutrients you provide it by eating fresh foods without downing beer.

6. Find A Combination Of Coping Mechanisms

Successfully treating addictions with co-occurring disorders involves trying different methods. Some methods won’t be the best without others. For instance, you can avoid the bar and cook fresh foods in your home; however, if you aren’t aware of the deep-rooted dynamics which led to the addiction in the first place, you wouldn’t have tackled the problem from the root. These are the instances where relapse is bound to happen because it’s as if you placed a bandage on a wound that required stitches.

Tackling the root problem requires professional help. Once that dynamic is figured out, other strategies such as finding hobbies, traveling, and socialization will solidify the healing process and encourage lifelong coping mechanisms compared to temporary solutions.


Treating addiction with co-occurring disorders is a difficult but achievable process. Addictions are usually the surface of deep-rooted mental illnesses whereby one may simply be seeking an escape from the pain that comes with the situation.

Seeking professional help by going to rehab is one major way of treating addictions while tackling the embedded mental dynamics. Left to your discretion, you may feel confused, isolated, and without the skills or tools to overcome.

On a day-to-day basis, you may need to find ways to fill in time where you’d otherwise engage in addictive activities. For instance, you can learn a skill that helps develop mental muscles, thereby distracting you from your addictions. You can also explore new terrain by traveling as long as you intentionally plan your trips so that you don’t end up in trigger environments. Rest is necessary for your mind and body to heal; therefore, when you feel tired, find ways to rest which aren’t rooted in substances.

You may have to try different methods to determine what may work for you best. Practice self-forgiveness and appreciation while you’re on the path to healing. Don’t be too hard on yourself, as some days are smoother than others. Eventually, you get there.

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