Co-Occurring Disorders


The subject of drug and alcohol addiction is rarely cut and dry. While it may be tempting to blame a single source for the addiction or condemn the person who is struggling with drug or alcohol use, the truth is that things are usually far more complicated than they seem. Beneath the surface, many addicts are also dealing with underlying mental health problems and turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms.

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When someone has a mental illness along with a drug or alcohol addiction, it's known as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. Living with a co-occurring disorder is never easy, but it happens more often than you might think because addiction and mental health are closely related. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people with mental health disorders are almost twice as likely to struggle with substance use than those who do not, and vice versa. As expected, treating both disorders is key to helping individuals achieve lasting recovery — otherwise, lingering symptoms can undermine the healing process and lead to relapse.

That’s why Choice House in Colorado offers a dual diagnosis program for those struggling with mental illness and addiction. As an integral part of our treatment program, dual diagnosis care promotes greater awareness of the mind-body connection and empowers clients to take charge of their recovery. By providing them with the skills, tools and support they’ll need to get sober and manage their mental health symptoms, our goal is to drastically improve each individual's chance of achieving a happy, healthy life free from addiction.

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

Co-occurring disorders are when someone has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and one or more overlapping mental illnesses.

Much like addiction, co-occurring disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Mental health symptoms can manifest in several different ways alongside substance abuse, and it isn’t always clear which came first. But no matter what a dual diagnosis looks like, experts agree that integrated treatment is required for a successful recovery. The overwhelming evidence that links mental illness and addiction emphasizes that you cannot take on one disorder without addressing the other, since they often feed into each other and further drive addictive behaviors.

In addiction recovery, there are some mental illnesses that appear more frequently than others when treating clients with a dual diagnosis. These include (but are not limited to):

Although co-occurring disorders are becoming more widely known, it isn’t always easy to recognize a dual diagnosis because substance abuse can mask or mimic the signs of mental illness. In other cases, some individuals might not even be aware of an underlying mental health condition until they seek help for addiction. Once a dual diagnosis has been made, however, treating both conditions together becomes essential to the recovery process, helping clients manage their symptoms and begin working toward sobriety without relapse.

What Causes Co-Occurring Disorders?

Co-occurring disorders can occur in people from all walks of life, but there are some risk factors that contribute to a dual diagnosis. These may include genetics, past trauma, environmental factors, substance abuse history and more. However, anyone can receive a dual diagnosis regardless of their background — just as addiction and mental health don’t discriminate, neither do co-occurring disorders.

That being said, the connection between mental illness and addiction is well established. Those with underlying mental health conditions have a greater chance of developing a substance abuse problem, most likely due to overlapping risk factors and a tendency to self-medicate. Dealing with a mental illness can be challenging, and drugs or alcohol provide a convenient escape from unpleasant symptoms. While this may give some temporary relief, self-medicating with illicit substances ultimately increases the risk of addiction and dependency.

Conversely, individuals struggling with addiction are also more likely to experience mental health problems. They may have an underlying condition that led to substance abuse in the first place, but drug and alcohol use can also trigger or worsen mental health symptoms like anxiety, depression and paranoia. If left untreated, these symptoms can make it difficult to stay sober and lead to a cycle of relapse that’s hard to break without the right care. To make real progress toward lasting recovery, those with co-occurring disorders need integrated mental health and addiction treatment that addresses both conditions at the same time.

Drug Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders in Boulder

At Choice House, our drug addiction recovery center in Boulder, Colorado, offers comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment for those struggling with co-occurring disorders. Our licensed therapists and clinicians are well-versed in the difficulties surrounding drug addiction and mental illness and have the right skills for leading individuals to a sober lifestyle.

To help clients on the road to recovery, our dual diagnosis treatment program equally addresses the issue of drug and alcohol abuse along with mental health disorders. Our approach combines the latest therapeutic modalities with proven psychotherapies, holistic techniques and outdoor adventure therapy to ensure that each client's mental, physical and emotional health needs are met. Not only do we work to combat the effects of addiction at hand, but we help clients delve further into the reasoning behind their substance abuse — such as mental health problems — so they can work through their issues and experience complete recovery.

Some of the therapies and techniques we use to accomplish this include:

  • Gender-specific programs
  • Integrated mental health and addiction treatment
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Somatic therapy
  • Experiential and psychodrama therapy
  • Outdoor adventure therapy
  • EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing)
  • Mindfulness techniques
  • Intervention through art
  • Family program
  • Relapse prevention
  • Thriving recovery community & alumni network

This integrated therapeutic approach has proven to be successful for many individuals struggling with co-occurring disorders. By offering a range of traditional and holistic modalities in a supportive environment, our goal is to help each client build a strong foundation for sustainable sobriety and take the necessary steps toward a happier, healthier life free from addiction and lingering mental health symptoms.

Achieve Lasting Recovery in the Rocky Mountains

Our premier recovery facility in Boulder, Colorado, is set against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. This unique location provides clients with the perfect opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and begin the healing process. And with the Flatirons and the Rocky Mountain National Park right in our backyard, we’re able to engage clients in outdoor therapies that are shown to promote greater recovery, a deeper sense of awareness and healthier habits. We know that each individual has their own obstacles and past to overcome, but we’ve found that the combination of comprehensive dual diagnosis care with powerful outdoor therapies is beneficial for all clients no matter what they're going through.

Contact Choice House

At Choice House, we know that life is so much more than mental health struggles and subsequent alcohol or drug abuse. Our dual diagnosis treatment program in Boulder and Denver-area rehab for substance abuse has helped numerous individuals reclaim their lives from the grips of drug addiction and take control of their mental health.

Contact us today at 303-578-4978 or to learn more about our drug addiction recovery programs and sober living options in Boulder, Colorado.

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