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    Co-Occurring Disorders and Stimulant Use

    Co-Occurring Disorder

    A co-occurring disorder is an emotional-psychiatric problem along with drug abuse addiction or alcohol dependence. There is no way to fully recover completely from dependency to substances if both problems aren't addressed and treated. In one survey that was done in the United States 53 percent of those that abused drugs and 37 percent of the individuals that abused alcohol had at least one mental disorder. Many people suffering from emotional or psychiatric problems are miserable inside and they are seeking to find relief when abusing drugs or alcohol. There are several psychiatric problems that fall into the category of co-occurring disorders; they fall into 4 main categories.

    Mood Disorders

    Mood disorders are described by extreme emotions like major depression, bipolar disorder and dysthymia. Bipolar disorder use to be referred to as manic depression and dysthymia is a milder form of chronic depression but it's still a chronic condition.

    Anxiety Disorders

    Anxiety disorders are described by very strong fears and behaviors of avoiding situations or people. This disorder includes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Social Phobia, Agoraphobia, and Panic Attacks.

    Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

    This form of anxiety disorder is developed after an individual is exposed to a very frightening experience where their life was threatened or they were physically harmed in some way. Certain experiences later can trigger PTSD like being assaulted, tragedies and disasters, accidents, or military combat. They continually experience memories about their traumatic ordeal constantly reliving it in their mind.

    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

    People suffering from OCD are obsessed with constant undesirable thoughts and compulsive repeated behaviors. There are a variety of behaviors an individual suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder may perform. Some people have to wash their hands repeatedly; some are obsessed with counting or checking on things. Constantly cleaning is another ritual that some people compulsively perform who suffers from OCD. The individual is fixated on these rituals and if they don't perform them the anxiety becomes intense and overwhelming.

    Social Phobia

    People who fall into this category may be petrified to be around other people, speak in front of people or eat and drink in front of people. They are extremely self-conscious around people and because of their deep fears; it affects every aspect of their lives. This intense fear is debilitating and the individual becomes overwhelmed with anxiety to the point they physically shake, become sick and find it impossible to communicate with others. Some people find it hard to go out because they're constantly obsessed with trying to hide and avoid communication or contact with others.


    Individuals suffering from agoraphobia have developed a fear of leaving their safe environment. Overtime without help, some people stay in their homes and never leave because the fear and anxiety are too overwhelming, this form of anxiety disorder may become debilitating without help. Some people suffering from less severe agoraphobia leave their homes but are only comfortable in places they feel safe. It's very common for people suffering from this anxiety disorder to avoid areas or places that are busy like supermarkets, airports, airplanes, and shopping malls.

    Panic Attacks

    People suffering from panic attacks out of the blue become overwhelmed with feelings of panic and fear. Because these feelings of panic come on without warning, some people obsess over it happening again. Women tend to suffer more than men with panic attacks, and in severe cases the person finds it hard to leave their home. The physical symptoms associated with panic attacks are frightening, they experience a rapid heart-beat; they become lightheaded and dizzy, feel chest pains and find it difficult to breathe.

    Psychotic Disorders

    Anyone, who suffers from a psychotic disorder (psychosis) which is described as severe mental disorders, has lost touch with what's real in the world. They can become delusional and hallucinate because of their unusual way of thinking and the way they perceive life around them. When the individual hallucinates they see and hear things that aren't really there but in their minds, it's real.


    Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that falls into this category. Some people become obsessed and fixated on the television, radio or computer believing that messages are being sent to them. Because they have lost touch with the real world, these messages are sometimes dangerous, the person may feel everyone's out to get them or they're being told to do something. Some people suffering from schizophrenia are paranoid and delusional at times which can make them dangerous to themselves as well as others.

    Personality Disorders

    It is unknown as to what actually causes personality disorders but there are many different forms and variations. Each form has its own set of symptoms relating to it. The cause is unknown but could have something to do with genetics; experiences throughout childhood could also play a role in this disorder. Many times individuals suffering from personality disorders find it hard to have successful relationships with people. They don't deal well with people, stress and normal everyday problems. Some of the forms of personality disorders include:

    1. Antisocial personality disorder
    2. Avoidant personality disorder
    3. Borderline personality disorder
    4. Dependent personality disorder
    5. Histrionic personality disorder
    6. Narcissistic personality disorder
    7. Paranoid personality disorder
    8. Schizoid personality disorder
    9. Schizotypal personality disorder

    As you can see there are many different emotional and psychiatric disorders that people suffer from. Many people misuse or abuse stimulant drugs in order to feel better for a while but in reality, it just makes things worse. It's important to have a correct diagnosis when entering into a substance abuse treatment program. Individuals not suffering from one of these psychiatric disorders still need to be evaluated in order to rule them out.

    The results of the evaluations aren't always easy to determine but completely necessary for those suffering from one of them. Medication and therapy are necessary in some cases in order for treatment to be successful depending on the severity and type of psychiatric disorder. Talk therapy like Behavioral Therapy is very beneficial as well as Cognitive Behavior Therapy but cannot be successful if the individual is in need of medication for controlling symptoms related to their co-occurring disorder.

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