What Are Co-occurring Disorders?
Co-occurring disorders or dual disorders is a disorder in which a person suffers from both mental illness (anxiety, bipolar disorder or depression, etc.) and a substance abuse disorder (alcohol or drug addiction).
Sometimes, the diagnose of dual disorders becomes difficult as the symptoms of one can empower the symptoms of other disorder. Many a time, people suffering from depression or anxiety do not mention their alcohol or drug addiction to their doctor or therapist. They fail to find any connection between the two. Incomplete information makes the diagnoses difficult.
Furthermore, mental disorder and substance abuse disorder are interrelated. Hence, Co-occurring disorders worsen the sufferer’s situation. This means, with an increase in substance abuse disorder, the mental disorder will also increase and vise-a-versa.
Dealing with dual disorders is never too easy for the patient. However, timely diagnose, proper treatment, love, and support of family and friends can help the sufferer to overcome all the hurdles and come out clean and mentally healthy.
Role of friends in Co-occurring disorders diagnoses
Friends are an essential part of our life. A true friend knows his friend in and out. They are the first one to recognize if something’s wrong with their friend. During dual disorder diagnosis, friends act as the support system and help the addict in staying strong throughout the healing journey. Many a time, it also happens that you want to help your friend, but are not sure about the ways of providing that help.
If you want to be there with your friend during in recovery journey, then continue reading this article. Below are some tips about how to help your friend with co-occurring disorders. Following these, you can show your friend that you care and stand by his side throughout the healing process.
How to Help Your Best Friend:
Educate Yourself About Addiction
If you want to help your friend in fighting addiction, the first thing you should do is to understand the nature of the addiction, its effects, symptoms, treatments, etc. Also, research how that specific addiction has affected your friend’s physical as well as mental health. This would also help to link his anxiety, mood swings, social detachments, etc. with his addiction issues.
In case your friend suffers from mental disorders like depression, anxiety, etc. you need to research them as well. This will further help you in understanding your friend’s behavior, and you would understand that it’s just the side-effects of the disorder. A complete understanding of the addiction would help you in making the right judgment, and you can also help your friend in a better way throughout his healing journey.
Individuals with co-occurring the disorder often feel that other people don’t empathize with them. They generally feel that they are looked down upon by society. This generates a feeling of shame, guilt, and loneliness among them. Hence, if you want to help your friend, you should make your friend realize that you are always there and they can trust you with their feelings. Listen to their feelings, their struggles, etc. Ensure them that you would not judge them. Be the social support which would help them in coming out of the darkness.
Be Supportive and Encouraging
Dealing with a co-occurring disorder diagnose is not easy. The addict may get easily distracted and would like to go back to their addiction. Friend’s love, support, and encouragement motivate the addict to keep going and live a sober life. For example, if your friend is addicted to alcohol, then you can support him avoiding drinking in front of him. Encourage him by telling him the health, financial, and other benefits of becoming sober. If your friend is in rehab, then make him realize that the ‘fort worth sober living.’
Encourage Healthy Habits
Another way in which you can help your friend during co-occurring disorder diagnoses and treatment process in by encouraging healthy habits. You can help your friend in adopting healthy regime which includes exercise regularly, meditation, eating a healthy diet, taking proper sleep, etc. If possible, try to become an exercise partner of your friend. This way, you not only make sure that your friend follows the daily exercise routine but would also enhance the addict’s motivation level.
Seeking professional help is very important. People suffering from co-occurring disorders are quite difficult to handle. Taking care and being there with a friend who is fighting both a mental disorder and substance abuse disorder may result in stress and conflicting feelings. If you feel that things are becoming too much to handle, then taking counselling sessions would be very helpful. An experienced professional would offer clarity about the ongoing situation and would help you in dealing with emotions arising from stressful circumstances.
Have Realistic Expectations
When it’s about your best friend, you expect treatment to do magic, and you start expecting immediate recovery. However, co-occurring disorder and bi-polar treatment demands patience and time. Truth is one cannot have a specific time as far as recovery is concerned. Be supportive and have faith in treatment. Unrealistic expectation can also put pressure on your friend may cause stress, this might result in a relapse. So, it’s better to have low expectations and just flow with the ongoing treatment.