A person with a co-occurring disorder has been diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder and another mental health disorder. Co-occurring disorders, sometimes called dual disorders, are best treated through integrated treatment that addresses both issues at the same time.
The brain is a complicated and delicate organ. It’s not surprising that alcohol and other drugs can cause symptoms of mental illness. The substances work by changing the way the brain operates. People who use drugs feel buzzed or high because the substances affect chemicals in the brain and the way brain cells communicate with one another.
In response to those changes, the brain adapts to the presence of alcohol and other drugs, increasing the chances that a person will develop a substance use disorder. Substance use disorders are types of mental health disorders that are more commonly called addiction.
It’s possible to have more than one mental health disorder. Substance use disorders often co-occur alongside other mental illnesses. More than half of people with substance use disorders also have a mental illness. Sometimes the mental illness comes first. In other people, substance abuse occurs first. In both situations, each disorder amplifies the symptoms of the other.
“A large number of people with substance use disorders also have some psychiatric disorders which may or may not be major,” Dr. Timothy Huckaby, medical director of Orlando Recovery Center, told DrugRehab.com. “A lot of people have underlying depression or underlying anxiety.”
Other common co-occurring disorders include personality disorders, behavior disorders and psychotic disorders. With comprehensive treatment, individuals can recover from addiction and most co-occurring mental health disorders. But failing to address co-occurring disorders during addiction treatment increases the chances of relapse.
What Are Mental Health Disorders?
The phrases “mental illness,” “mental health disorder” and “mental health issue” are often used synonymously. In its diagnostics manual, the American Psychiatric Association uses the term mental disorder to define mental illnesses, but the organization also recommends using the term mental health challenge.
The American Psychiatric Association defines a mental disorder as: “a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological or developmental processes underlying mental functioning.”
Some mental disorders are more common than others. Conditions such as anxiety and depressive disorders, for example, occur more frequently than schizophrenia and psychosis. Each type of mental disorder can range in severity from mild to severe.
Mental disorders are different from developmental disabilities. Developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities, impair social interaction, mobility, language and self-sufficiency.
Substance use disorders and other mental health disorders can co-occur alongside developmental disorders. But the term co-occurring disorder most commonly refers to substance use disorders and mental disorders.
Dual Diagnosis & Comorbidity
Dual diagnosis is an outdated term for co-occurring disorders. Both of these terms are sometimes confused with comorbid disorders.
Comorbidity is a broad term used to denote the existence of multiple physical or mental diseases or disorders. Co-occurring disorders and dual diagnosis are specific to substance use disorders and other mental health conditions.
Mental Disorders that Co-Occur with Substance Abuse
Any mental health disorder can co-occur alongside substance use disorders. The most common types of co-occurring disorders include mood, anxiety, psychotic, eating, personality and behavioral disorders. Each category includes numerous types of mental disorders that can range in severity.
Symptoms of personality disorders vary widely based on the type and severity.
Behavioral disorders most commonly occur in children. Many healthy people exhibit behavior problems, such as inattention, defiance and hyperactivity. However, behavioral disorders are characterized by chronic behavior problems that last at least six months.
Common behavioral disorders include:
Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders
The physical and emotional symptoms of co-occurring disorders vary depending on your life circumstances, the type of substances you use and the type of mental illness you possess.
The symptoms of mental health disorders are similar to the side effects of addiction. Thus, it can be difficult to determine whether a mental illness is caused by substance abuse or vice versa. Reputable addiction treatment centers screen patients for mental illnesses and develop plans for treating co-occurring disorders simultaneously.
I am very excited to announce we are starting groups that will be using mindfulness to reduce stress and improve overall physical and mental health.
Mindfulness is a bit of buzzword at the moment. It may have popped up on your social media or at your job. What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the art of being fully present, fully aware, and fully engaged in this moment without judgment. Mindfulness allows you to reduce the stress hormone cortisol which allows your body to function in a healthier way.
So why would you want to learn how to do that? Mindfulness has been around for thousands of years but it is only in the last 60 years that scientists have really studied it in depth. What they discovered was astonishing and will be taught in the class. In short mindfulness has been researched and found to be helpful with improving:
Please note that Mindfulness does not replace your current medical and mental health treatment but rather enhances it. It gives you the tools to get the most out of your treatment.
We tend to look at the mind and body as separate but Mindfulness is a holistic practice that embraces the interconnected whole. If you struggle with any of the above issues, I expect you have noticed how when you are stressed your health is more difficult to manage and vice versa. If you want to find ways to better manage this cycle this group could be for you.
The group will meet weekly for 9 weeks and include a time of teaching and a time of practicing techniques. There is daily homework that is essential to getting the most out of the group.
Interested in signing up? Please give the front office a call at 513-939-0300 to ask about the next available start date.
Leave with a gender-neutral lava rock bracelet that you create while learning about essential oils!
REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. CALL 513-939-0300 TO SIGN UP.
This class is open to CPCS clients, therapists and the public.
You’re here because you are curious about EMDR therapy and you want to know what it’s all about. As a therapist, I’ve learned many types of therapy that have positively changed the way I approach my practice, EMDR incorporates all that and so much more. For many years, I heard from respected clinicians about the incredible changes they have seen in their clients engaged in EMDR therapy. The therapy has gained recent momentum in the mental health world, and for good reason. EMDR is empirically validated as effective for helping people deal with trauma. It has also been shown effective with many other disruptive symptoms such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and addiction recovery. Think of your painful memories, thoughts, images, like a tangled ball of yarn, often complicated to talk through especially when the strings are intertwined. EMDR therapy can help to untangle the yarn and allow you to process one string at a time, in a safe contained way. EMDR therapy can accelerate the therapeutic process by resolving painful past traumas allowing you to live more fully in the present. And who doesn’t want to live in the present?
Why am I telling you about EMDR?
I was trained by Dr. Stephen Dansiger, a certified EMDR therapist from the Institute of Creative Mindfulness. I experienced a life changing shift when he himself demonstrated the 8 phases of treatment on me. Keep reading and I will tell you more about these 8 phases later. During my experience I felt a relief, something years of talk therapy had not been able to process for a long time. As a clinician, I feel passionate about giving as many people the opportunity to learn about and benefit from this treatment as possible.
But what is EMDR therapy?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Don’t worry, it is way less complicated than it sounds. It is a non-drug, non-hypnosis, psychotherapy that combines many positive elements of numerous therapies along with left/right brain stimulation (known as bilateral stimulation), developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the 1980’s. EMDR therapy involves a trained therapist waving their fingers from left to right (some therapists use a light bar to achieve this part of the therapy), in a windshield wiper motion, which will trigger the brain to bring up the painful memories in an effort to process them and speed up the healing process. All of this is done in a safe environment with you and your therapist present. You are not alone in the processing of your memories. The therapist will also work to reprocess negative beliefs, images, and feelings and replace them with more positive ones. The outcome is the feeling of resolution and a more peaceful state overall. EMDR therapy has successfully treated millions of people of all ages, has gained notability with veterans of war as a primary treatment modality for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, but also many types of other traumatic stress and negative symptoms that come along with different experiences.
You’re probably wondering how simple “finger wipers” do all that? Interestingly enough the “finger waving” is key to the therapy. It engages something called bilateral stimulation (right to left eye movement), which repeatedly activates the opposite sides of the brain. This releases emotional experiences that are "trapped" in the nervous system. When this happens it assists the neurophysiological system, the basis of the mind-body connection, to free itself of blockages and begin to heal. In a basic sense, when a person experiences an adverse event, or trauma, the brain cannot process the event as it does normally. The brain instead takes this event and stores it, sort of like “I’ll get to this later”. Unfortunately, the “I’ll get to this later” never quite happens and essentially these adverse feelings, memories, and thoughts become “stuck” in an isolated memory network. They can easily become re-triggered by sound, smell, feelings, and environments that were activated during the traumatic event. EMDR therapy is able to guide the person in a safe, contained environment to “unstick” the memories, reprocess them, and replace them with more positive images. Once this happens,the person can begin to move forward with healing.
Who is the best candidate for EMDR?
EMDR therapy is for children, adolescents, and adults. If you or a loved one has ever experienced panic attacks, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, pain disorders, anxiety, performance anxiety, depression, addictions, phobias, sexual and/or physical abuse, body dysmorphic disorder, and personality disorders.
**It is important to note that a consultation with a EMDR trained therapist is the best way to determine if EMDR is right for you.
EMDR therapy has been designated by the American Psychiatric Association, U.S. Department of Defense, and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, as a highly effective and empirically supported treatment modality for the treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
What happens in EMDR Therapy sessions?
EMDR therapy has a standardized set of protocols that a therapist will follow. There are 8 phases to the treatment, that are moved through at a varying pace depending on your readiness for the next stage. An EMDR therapist is trained to know appropriate pacing but you can determine whether to continue or stop at anytime. The therapist is there as a guide to help you get the most out of the experience, and at times may gently aide in pushing you through painful moments.
Why bring up painful memories? Isn’t it best to forget them and move on?
By avoiding the painful memory you might continue to experience the lasting effects of the event, through nightmares, stress, anxiety, and panic attacks. By holding onto these memories you stop yourself from moving on. The problem with avoidance, or ignoring these memories, is that it is a temporary relief. For a brief moment it allows you to feel better and put aside the pain, but it doesn’t remove it, and worse, it allows it to keep its power over you and your joy. Often, this painful memory rears its ugly head at times when we are not prepared and leaves us crippled by its effects. EMDR therapy is not just bringing up painful memories, its moving through them in a safe, contained way. It alleviates suffering, and replaces it with positivity.
What happens when I’m done with all 8 phases?
After the 8 phases you will likely continue to process the material for days, weeks, or perhaps even months. You might have new insights, vivid dreams, feel angry or numb with no real answer why. This is because your are finally processing the unpleasant memories you were holding onto for so long. Your therapist will guide you through this process and advise best practices for moving forward. Some people feel a slight buzzing all over their body, similar to the feeling of when they stand up too fast. Don’t worry, this will soon fade. Your right and left hemisphere are stimulated by the finger waving motion and it is only natural that you will feel something afterwards. Often times, after a person has processed one of their target issues they will notice that some of the other target issues, are no longer are troubling them. This is because our memory networks are linked in ways we aren't consciously aware of. Its normal to cry, feel tired, need time to be alone, or feel a little “off” because your body is starting the healing process. Allow it to heal.
So this all sounds like something I might want to try. What do I do now?
I would be more than happy to help you in your journey to healing! You can call our main office at 513.939.0300 and ask the office staff to schedule an appointment with Jennifer Burns for an EMDR session. I am currently taking new clients and would love to meet you.
Where can I find more information on EMDR?
EMDR International Association
The Institute for Creative Mindfulness
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: National Center for PTSD
The Middle School/childhood DBT® Program consists of:
To schedule an appointment call the front office at 513-939-0300
Among my other roles here at Compass Point, I have the pleasure of leading the ACES group. ACES is a fairly new curriculum and group so there are always many questions. I am going to take them one at a time.
So the first question, what is ACES? ACES is a program developed for people that have done a full year of DBT but find there are still areas in which they could improve. It builds on the foundation of DBT. It’s primary purpose is to introduce the idea of building your life in such a way that you no longer need therapy. It can be scary to contemplate life without therapy when you have been in therapy for years. ACES is all about setting yourself up for success when you do graduate from therapy.
The second question, what kind of commitment is it? ACES 6:15-7:45 every Monday night for a year. There is an expectation to do homework every week and to be seeing an individual therapist weekly at the start of the program. The plan would be to decrease the individual therapy over time. The homework includes reading material and practicing skills.
Why so long? Most of you will have been in the mental health system for years. Making the change is a process and we want to set you up to not only succeed but thrive. For that reason the curriculum is pretty comprehensive. We spend a month on each on 12 important topics.
How do I know if it is right for me? Have you done a year of DBT? Then it might fit you. Are you currently seeing a therapist or would you like to? Then it might fit you. Has it been three months since you engaged in self-harm or acted on suicidal thoughts? Then it might fit you. Are there things on the list of topics that you want to improve on? Then it might fit you.
How do I get in the group? If you have a compass point therapist simply talk to them about doing an application and they can contact me. I will give them the application and let them know when the groups next open is. The group opens once a month but caps at 12 members. If you do not have a compass point therapist, you or your outside therapist can contact me at Compass Point or ask any staff to connect you with me for an intake to ensure you are a good fit for the group.
Please note this is a private pay group that charges $20 per week.
Contact info: 513-939-0300 ext 171
DBT Friends and Family is a support group for individuals who have a loved one that is participating in DBT treatment. We understand that the DBT concepts and skills are foreign to you and that your loved ones behaviors, thoughts, and/or feelings may be confusing. We believe that you have a desire to help facilitate positive change.
The goal of DBT Friends and Family is two-fold:
1. We seek to support you and connect you with others who understand this stress
2. We seek teach you core DBT skills and concepts so that you can relate and help your loved one
This group is offered in both Anderson + Fairfield on a rotating basis. Ask the front office where the next class will meet
To sign up for the next meeting call the front office at 513-939-0300
Target Population: Clients who have completed two cycles (one year) of Standard Dialectical
Behavioral Therapy skills class and are still struggling to find their life worth living -or- are seeking a greater understanding or practice of DBT skills and concepts of behavioral change.
Goals of DBT-ACES: Clients will push ahead with new goals to help them create a support network, acquire employment that is in line with their values and needs, experience their emotions and are able to demonstrate mastery of standard DBT skills. At completion of DBT-ACES, the client will be finished with standard weekly therapy or will seek a specific treatment (ie: exposure therapy). It is recognized that continuing with standard weekly therapy keeps the client dependent on the mental health system thus reinforcing their identity of mental illness.
Additional Requirements: The client will need to continue with an individual therapist and continue using a diary card. If the therapist is unfamiliar with the DBT-ACES protocol, an overview will be provided. As mentioned above, a goal is to reduce dependence on the mental health system; as time progresses the standard rules of phone coaching will change and frequency of appointments should decrease. The client must be free of suicidal and self-harming behavior for at least 3 months prior to beginning DBT-ACES.
For more information please contact the facilitator, Charity Chaney, at Compass Point Counseling Center (513) 939-0300
When we are struggling, it can be hard to muster up the motivation, focus, and follow-through to secure the support we need. Add to this the fact that the mental health world can be daunting and difficult to navigate - even for seasoned mental health professionals - and the unfortunate consequence is that many people who want and would benefit from treatment end up going without. If you are in need of mental health support but are not sure where to start or are confused about the information you have already found, the following may be useful in guiding your next steps:
Types of mental health care
Levels of mental health care
If you are not sure which type of treatment or level of care is appropriate for you, an initial diagnostic assessment by a qualified mental health professional is a good place to start. The evaluating practitioner can use the information you provide during the assessment to determine areas of need and provide referrals accordingly. Here at Compass Point we offer a service called Care Connect which helps match you to the type and level of care that you need.
Finding a Provider
So, you have a general idea of what is out there in terms of mental health treatment...but how do you access it? Here are some options:
Compass Point is now offering free weekly zen meditation. On Wednesday mornings from 10:00 am to 10:20 am. We have a brief introduction to the style of meditation followed by a 15-20 minute meditation sitting practice. After, we spend a few minutes discussing the experience. A small amount of time that makes a big impact! Walk ins are welcome, however we recommend coming about 10 minutes before meditation starts.
Below is an article from Alyx Beresford on the benefits of practicing weekly zen meditation shared from her blog, your mental restoration.
Formal Zen meditation is the type that I practice and encourage my friends, family, clients, etc to practice also. Notice I said practice…yes, sitting upright and still requires PRACTICE! The basic components are:
You can really meditate whenever your want, where-ever you want, with whoever you want. I recommend group meditation in the beginning…think about how much you cognitively know about exercising and eating healthy vs what you actually do in your day-to-day life…? I find that group meditation holds you accountable and achieves better results just as group exercise does! Most major cities have group meditations or a zen center to provide this structure.