Addiction rarely occurs on its own. Most individuals seeking help for substance or alcohol abuse are experiencing a co-occurring issue. These additional problems may include the following:
Treatment professionals should not stop at physical addiction but should discover what purpose substance use has and what it is being used to mask. Therapists then replace dangerous addiction behavior with new, healthier tools and coping mechanisms to deal with any existing issues. Whether big or small, addressing these underlying issues gives each individual the best possible chance of success in the treatment process and at long-term recovery.
The same impulses that make an individual susceptible to one chemical addiction can make them open to a secondary chemical or behavioral addiction as well. Two or more overlapping addictions can be referred to as co-occurring addictions or disorders. Examples of co-occurring disorders could be opiate addiction and workaholism or alcoholism and compulsive gambling.
Co-occurring disorders are not the same as an individual who trades one addiction or disorder for another. A recent example of this is found in food addicts who undergo weight-loss surgery and find themselves at risk for new addictions. Since they are physically unable to abuse food, they may find themselves turning to alcohol abuse, shopping addiction or compulsive gambling to get that “fix” that food used to provide.
Co-occurring addictions occur for the same reasons as primary addictions but can result in new problems. These secondary addictions often aren’t seen as dangerous by the user because they aren’t the primary addiction. Ironically, the secondary addiction feeds the primary addiction, often leading back to increased abuse of that primary substance.
Co-occurring disorders also refer to someone who is battling an addiction combined with a mental health illness such as the following:
Awareness of various types of abuse and addiction is important and enables us to identify issues in ourselves and those we love. Knowing the signs of addictions and disorders lets us get the help we need. If you suspect trauma, addiction or co-occurring disorders may be afflicting you or a loved one, call our toll-free number and get assistance finding treatment and recovery resources. We are available 24 hours a day to provide the help you need. Please don’t hesitate to call and take control of your life.