Signs and Symptoms of Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder

Alcohol and drug abuse treatment and recovery is often not a straight path for someone who may have other underlying physical or mental health issues.  Many types of mental health disorders are experienced by individuals also struggling with addiction. Addiction and mental health issues commonly occur together.  There are specific mental disorders that commonly occur among alcohol abusers and others that affect drug abusers, but there are no set in stone combinations.  

At TruPath we have treatment programs for addictions and mental health disorders to fit the needs of people from all walks of life.  We understand that integrating treatment for cooccurring disorders is an important part of addressing a dual diagnosis. We have specific treatment plans for alcohol use disorders and all other substance use disorders available for you or one of your loved ones.  All of our levels of care and types of treatments are flexible and customizable so that your specific needs are met.  If you or one of your loved ones needs substance abuse treatment or has a cooccurring mental disorder, call us today to learn more about how we can help.

What are Co-Occurring Disorders?

A cooccurring mental disorder is when someone has a mental health issue, like diagnosed depression, anxiety, or eating disorders, and additionally is addicted to drugs or alcohol.  There are some commonly occurring combinations, like alcohol and depression, but almost any mental health problem can occur in conjunction with alcohol or drug addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that approximately 50% of people who struggle with alcohol or drug addiction also have a mental illness. This includes data that shows high rates of comorbid substance use disorders and anxiety disorders—which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Why Do Mental Health Disorders and Substance Abuse Often Occur Together?

One of the many reasons that mental health disorders and substance abuse occur together is the act of self-medicating that can often occur.  What this means is that someone with depression may turn to alcohol to make themselves feel better, which causes two problems.  First, they can develop an alcohol dependence if they are relying on regular alcohol consumption to feel normal.  Second, since alcohol is a depressant, this can actually worsen their overall state, not improve it. Another reason why substance use disorders and mental health issues occur together is due to the stress that drug abuse and alcohol abuse can cause a person.  When you go down the road of regular substance abuse, you may feel isolated, which can lead to anxiety and other issues, like eating disorders.  Drug addiction, alcohol use disorders, and mental health conditions are all disruptors in a person’s life and it’s not surprising that they can often be related once someone begins down an unhealthy path. 

Signs Someone May Have Co-Occurring Disorders

In addition to social isolation, there are many other symptoms of mental illness combined with addiction.  Drug abusers and alcohol abusers often try to hide their activities but there are signs of substance use and cooccurring disorders.  Some signs and symptoms to look for if you suspect someone you love has mental health and substance abuse problems are as follows:


  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Using substances under dangerous conditions
  • Risky behavior
  • Loss of control over how much they use substances or drink alcohol
  • Needing more and more of the substance to achieve the desired effect (tolerance)
  • Displaying intense, painful withdrawal symptoms
  • Cravings for the substance, and the belief that they need the substance to function.

Treatment for Mental Health and Addiction at TruPath

If you are struggling with substance use disorders or have cooccurring disorders as part of a dual diagnosis, TruPath has the treatment options for you.  Call us today to find out more about what we have to offer. 

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