Mental disorders cause a highly dangerous state in the patient’s organism. Psychological disorders may impact people of any age or social group. While a disorder alone makes a hazardous impact on a person’s health, there are frequent cases of co-occurrence of these conditions. Substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders present danger to the people suffering from them and the society, and there is an acute need for effective methods of diagnosing and finding the cure for such conditions.
The Prevalence of Co-Occurring Disorders (CODs)
An unsurprising piece of information about the prevalence of CODs was that one disorder might complicate the presentation of another (Klott, 2013). It is a well-known fact that addiction is not a physical but a brain impairment (Klott, 2013). Prevalence psychiatric disorders are connected with many co-occurring states such as behavior complications, genetic and psychiatric disorders, seizure disorders, and physical defects (Turygin, Matson, & Adams, 2014). People who experience the most severe impact of CODs need to stay at special residential treatment facilities where they receive proper treatment and are assisted in managing their challenging conduct (Turygin et al., 2014). Pettinati, O’Brien, and Dundon (2013) emphasize the significance of revising the present pharmacotherapy approaches to the treatment of CODs. Pettinati et al. (2013) note that medications applied for the treatment of mood symptoms are not effective in the elimination of AODs. Both scholars and physicians emphasize the need for finding the best solutions to COD treatment since their prevalence leads to the increase of violent behaviors among the patients (Ogloff, Talevski, Lemphers, Wood, & Simmons, 2015).
A surprising piece of statistics was that psychiatric disorder “median onset age” is eleven (Klott, 2013). It is striking that many young children suffer from CODs. A study by Salazar et al. (2015) reports that the most typical diagnoses for children aged 4.5-9.8 years are generalized anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and specific phobias. Salazar et al. (2015) remark that additional psychopathology is a frequent occurrence in children with disorders.
Clinical Symptoms of Substance Use Disorders (SUDs)
According to the American Psychiatric Association (2013), there are eleven diagnostic criteria for SUDs:
- Using the substance for a longer time or in a larger quantity than it was initially planned;
- Wishing to lower the substance use but failing to do so;
- Spending much time on accessing and using the substance or recuperating;
- Craving: a strong yearning for the substance which may happen at any phase but is most common when a person is in the place where he/she used to find or utilize the substance. Craving is connected with the initiation of particular brain reward systems;
- Repetitive drug use may lead to a person’s inability to performing his/her duties at home, school, or work;
- Persisting to use drugs even though the consequences lead to constant or repeated difficulties in communication;
- A person might miss some significant events at work or in family life because of drug use;
- An individual might continue substance use even though it may lead to serious risks for health;
- Carrying on drug use in spite of being aware of having constant or repetitive psychological or physical complications;
- Tolerance: the demand for an intensified drug dose to reach the expected effect or a weakened effect from a standard dose;
- Withdrawal: a condition when an individual’s long substance use causes deterioration of tissue or blood concentration. When a person has the symptoms of withdrawal, he/she may use the substance with the aim of alleviating the symptoms (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
The criteria are divided into such categories as impaired control over drug use (criteria 1-4), social deterioration (criteria 5-7), hazardous substance use (criteria 8-9), and pharmacological group (criteria 10-11) (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
The Differences and Similarities in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Systems
It is difficult to differentiate between mental health and substance abuse disorders, as they have many common symptoms. The first similarity between the two systems is that their damage presents the same internal problems, such as depression or frustration (Padwa, Larkins, Crevecoeur-MacPhail, & Grella, 2013). The second common feature is that both systems require an integrated treatment approach involving various specialists (Padwa et al. 2013).
The main difference between substance abuse and mental health systems is that the latter has got a more comprehensive range of services available for the patients, such as vocational rehabilitation, counseling, and many presidential campaigns. The second major disparity between the systems is that in mental health treatment, there is the more frequent use of medications than in substance abuse treatment (Klott, 2013).
Unlike physical illnesses, which can be more or less easily diagnosed and whose treatment process is facilitated through the patients’ responses, mental diseases present a lot of difficulties not only for the patients but also for the physicians. When a person’s brain is damaged, he/she cannot always explain the cause of the problem and is not responsible for the outcomes of treatment. People with mental disorders present a danger to society and themselves. What is more, there are frequent cases of co-occurring disorders that are more difficult to diagnose and cure. That is why the healthcare system is in need of new diagnosing and treatment approaches to mental disorders and their co-occurrences.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Klott, J. (2013). Integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders: Treating people, not behaviors. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Ogloff, J. R. P., Talevski, D., Lemphers, A., Wood, M., & Simmons, M. (2015). Co-occurring mental illness, substance use disorders, and antisocial personality disorder among clients of forensic mental health services. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 38(1), 16-23.
Padwa, H., Larkins, S., Crevecoeur-MacPhail, D. A., & Grella, C. E. (2013). Dual diagnosis capability in mental health and substance use disorder treatment programs. Journal of Dual Diagnosis, 9(2), 179-186.
Pettinati, H. M., O’Brien, C. P., & Dundon, W. D. (2013). Current status of co-occurring mood and substance use disorders: A new therapeutic target. American Journal of Psychiatry, 170(1), 23-30.
Turygin, N., Matson, J. L., & Adams, H. (2014). Prevalence of co-occurring disorders in a sample of adults with mild and moderate intellectual disabilities who reside in a residential treatment setting. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 35(7), 1802-1808.
Salazar, F., Baird, G., Chandler, S., Tseng, E., O’Sullivan, T., Howlin, P.,… Simonoff, E. (2015). Co-occurring psychiatric disorders in preschool and elementary school-aged children with an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(8), 2283-2294.