Substance abuse presents enormous challenges. Sometimes, mental health issues such as anxiety or depression magnify those challenges. Science has a name for this: \u201cco-occurring disorders.\u201d But what are co-occurring disorders? And how do you successfully get treatment for them? Also known as \u201cdual-diagnosis\u201d disorders, co-occurring disorders are very common. For reasons doctors are just now understanding, alcohol or drug abuse and mental health disorders tend to feed off each other. They also require a specialized approach to treatment. If you or a loved one has struggled with substance abuse or mental illness, you may have heard the term and are wondering, \u201cwhat are co-occurring disorders?\u201d Let\u2019s take a closer look at what they are and how to address them. What are Co-Occurring Disorders? Substance abuse is hard. So are mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression. When they co-exist, doctors describe you as suffering from a \u201cco-occurring\u201d or a \u201cdual-diagnosis\u201d disorder.\u00a0 Identifying the presence of a co-occurring disorder can be a challenge since combinations of disorders and their symptoms will vary. The typical tells of a substance use disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, include: \tPulling away from trusted relationships \tChanges in behavior or personality \tEngaging in risky activities \tInability to moderate \tWithdrawal symptoms \tBelieving you can only function on a drug Mental health conditions can have similar symptoms, and can also vary. Anxiety disorders can involve overwhelming worry; depression can lead to excessive sadness or dark feelings. Understanding the symptoms will help understand the question, \u201cwhat are co-occurring disorders?\u201d Addressing the Challenges In addition to wondering, \u201cwhat are co-occurring disorders?\u201d you may also be wondering about treatment. At one point time, the prevailing thinking was that you couldn\u2019t treat someone\u2019s depression or anxiety while they were still drinking. Today, doctors believe that integrated treatment, where both conditions are addressed at the same time, leads to the best outcomes. It makes sense, too -- as we now better understand how the two conditions interact. Not every co-occurring disorder presents itself in the same way. Mental health and addiction specialists will design a treatment plan that\u2019s unique to you. But there are common elements. Most of the time, you\u2019ll start treatment with a period of detox and rehab to address the impact of ongoing substance abuse. After that, you can expect a period of substance abuse and mental health counseling. You\u2019ll likely be asked to sit for both individual and group therapy sessions, and maybe even family therapy. Post counseling, you\u2019ll be provided with \u201caftercare\u201d resources to help prevent relapse. The extent of Co-Occurring Disorders Co-occurring disorders began to emerge sometime in the early 1980s. Since then, our understanding of them has grown tremendously. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people suffering from anxiety or depression are about twice as likely to experience difficulties with substance abuse than the general population. Interestingly, the opposite is also true. People addicted to drugs or alcohol are about twice as likely to experience mental health challenges than the average person. About 8 million adults are diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder in the United States. Double the Help What are co-occurring disorders? It\u2019s hard enough to have either a mental illness or a substance abuse problem. Having both makes life -- and treatment -- much more complicated. At Right Step Houston, our counseling team is well-versed in all forms of substance abuse problems. They understand the resulting complications.\u00a0 We provide a full range of treatment programs and counseling to help put you on a path to sobriety. Our programs include medical drug detox programs, inpatient drug rehab centers, alcohol addiction treatment, important aftercare programs, and others, including gender-specific treatment protocols. Call us today for a confidential consultation at .