Co-occurring Disorders Treatment At Avatar Residential Detox

A co-occurring disorder is also called a dual diagnosis or a second disease. While one might think a dual diagnosis is rare, it is more common than we realize.

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Read more about Dual Diagnosis and the 5 Major types of mental disorders (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, conduct disorder), addiction recovery from alcohol use disorder, and recovery from drug abuse.

Did you know? A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed the following statistics:

  • About 50 percent of people who have severe mental illness are affected by substance abuse.
  • 37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness.

What are co-occurring disorders?

Before we dive into the major types of Co-occurring Disorders with substance abuse, let’s have a look at what we mean by Co-occurring disorders.

The word “co-occur” means to occur together (or at the same time) or simultaneously. When we talk in the medical context, when someone has a substance abuse problem and a mental health issue, it is a co-occurring disorder.

A co-occurring disorder is also called a dual diagnosis or a second disease. While one might think a dual diagnosis is rare, it is more common than we realize. In 2016, around 8.2 million adults had dual diagnoses in the United States.

While the severity of the mental disorder and the substance abuse disorder can vary significantly from individual to individual, co-occurring diseases drastically increase the chances of relapse and make the patient’s psychiatric condition worse. Co-occurring disorders, if left undiagnosed and untreated, severely hamper the patients’ long-term well-being.

For some people, mental disorders lead to substance abuse disorder; for others, substance abuse disorders cause mental health issues, which hinder the recovery process.

Now that we know what co-occurring disorders are, let’s understand some major co-occurring mental diseases better.

5 Major Types of Co-occurring Mental Health Problems and Disorders

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 45 percent of individuals with addiction also have a co-occurring mental health disorder.

Conduct Disorder (Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder)

Research shows a higher chance that an individual with a conduct disorder will also develop an alcohol use disorder.

A conduct disorder is when an individual shows a constant and repetitive pattern of violating rules, fundamental rights of other people, regulations, and age-appropriate norms. It is typically diagnosed in adolescents.

Some criteria of diagnosis for a conduct disorder include:

  • Aggression towards animals and people
  • Property destruction
  • Violation of rules
  • Deceit or/and theft

It is essential to diagnose and treat conduct disorders immediately since they are most common in adolescents and can affect them for the rest of their lives if not diagnosed on time.

For individuals suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder and conduct disorders, a detox program, followed by rehabilitation with various therapies such as forms of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, experiential therapies like music therapy, art therapy, and wilderness therapy, would be an extremely effective treatment as well as personal development. At Avatar, we offer all integrated treatments for conduct disorders and alcohol abuse, including experiential therapies, detox treatments, rehabilitation, and more under expert medical guidance.


As we all must know, depression is the most common mental disorder among people in the US.

Estimates show that around 16.1 million Americans experience at least one depressive episode in any given year.

Depression is a commonly used term for several depressive disorders. Severe and persistent sadness, which interferes with daily function and decreased or no pleasure in activities, is a common characteristic of depressive disorders.

Some of the types of depressive orders as classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) are:

  • Major Depressive disorder or major depression
  • Persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia
  • Substance/ medication-induced depressive disorder
  • Depressive disorder due to another medical symptom
  • Other specified or unspecified depressive disorder

Some of the common symptoms of depression are as follows:

  • Prolonged depressed mood
  • Diminished motivation or interest
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Reduced appetite or overeating
  • Lowered ability to think and concentrate
  • Indecisiveness
  • Fatigue

Many people with depressive disorders turn to alcohol or drugs to escape from their depression, which puts them at acute risk for alcohol or drug dependency. Dependency leads to substance abuse disorders which make the depressive disorders worse. The symptoms of alcohol dependency and depression are very similar.

An integrated treatment plan is essential in cases where there are co-occurring depressive disorders and substance abuse disorders. With a proper diagnosis, both depression and substance abuse disorders are entirely treatable.

At Avatar, we first assess the severity of the addiction and determine the form of depression our patient is suffering. After the dual diagnosis, we create a second disorder treatment plan for the patient, starting from a short detox program to regain sobriety.

Avatar offers evidence-based medical treatments and therapies to help our patients overcome addiction and depressive disorders simultaneously. Firm believers of holistic treatment and personal development, we use various therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, wilderness therapy, group therapy, oxygen therapy, and more to help our patients recover and prevent relapse.

Anxiety Disorders

Just like we experience physical disorders such as cardiac issues or diabetes, one may also experience anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental disorders in the United States.

National prevalence data shows that almost 40 million people in the US experience an anxiety disorder in any given year.

So, what are anxiety disorders?

When one experiences anxiety occasionally and can control it, there is no cause to worry. But when a person experiences overwhelming, persistent, and uncontrollable anxiety and unexplainable irrational fear of everyday situations, it interferes with daily life. These symptoms may mean that the person has an anxiety disorder.

The word “anxiety disorder” stands for particular psychiatric disorders that involve extreme fear or worry. Some of the common types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Panic Disorder and Panic Attacks
  • Agoraphobia
  • Social anxiety disorder

When people find it difficult to cope with anxiety, they turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate. Alcohol reduces anxiety by acting as a central nervous depressant, but the effects are short-lived while pleasant. Alcohol and Drug soon begin to eat away at your happiness, and you become dependent on them.

Self-medicating for anxiety disorder is dangerous. It will most likely lead to health complications, drug addiction or alcohol addiction, psychiatric complications, and disruption in personal life, including a threat to life. Anxiety and addiction combined to create a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and negative behaviors that impact physical and mental health and make it impossible for a person to live a healthy and fulfilling life.

The treatment for anxiety disorders and addiction depends on the severity as well as the type of addiction. The integrated therapy for anxiety and addiction, after in-depth patient assessment, often begins with a detox program which helps the patient regain physical health as well as mental stability.

We at Avatar in NJ create individualized treatment plans for our patients to give them the best results. We integrate standard rehabilitation practices with evidence-based therapies like medication-assisted therapy for anxiety disorders, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), excellent aftercare planning to prevent relapses and encourage sobriety.

Bipolar Disorders

Research shows that 33 to 61 percent of individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder also have a co-occurring alcohol use disorder. Alcohol Use Disorder or AUD is the most commonly reported substance abuse disorder among people with bipolar disorder.

We have often heard the words “You’re bipolar” casually thrown around, but what does it mean to be diagnosed with bipolar disorders? And what are bipolar disorders?

The presence of mania or hypomania indicates bipolar disorder. Mania is when an individual experiences a period of abnormally heightened, expansive, or irritable displays of mood or effect that for at least one week. Some examples of manifestations for mania include:

  • Racing thoughts accompanied by rapid and prolonged speech
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Grandiose behavior
  • Extreme talkativeness
  • Easily distractible
  • Increased potentially dangerous behaviors

A patient may not exhibit all the symptoms of mania. While mania is the definitive symptom of bipolar disorder, patients also may report episodes of clinical depression.

Bipolar disorder is not just one disorder; there are two main types of bipolar disorder, according to the APA. The APA reports that individuals with bipolar disorders are commonly diagnosed with other mental illnesses. The most common dual diagnosis is that of bipolar disorder and substance use disorder.

Treatment for co-occurring bipolar disorder and addiction must happen concurrently and must integrate standard medical treatment and psychiatric treatment. These treatments are often called integrated treatment approaches, where experts, medical professionals, psychiatrists, therapists, and medical staff come together to provide care.

At Avatar, our experienced medical professionals, psychiatrists, and caregivers create an individualized treatment plan for the patient after a thorough neuropsychological assessment.

The treatment’s initial stage is often a short medical detox program, and treatment for bipolar disorder and substance abuse dual diagnosis usually begins with an inpatient program.


Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects about 1 percent of Americans. Its also a condition characterized by hallucinations and delusional thinking. A disease that affects around 2 million people is not easy to diagnose, and substance abuse is because both addiction and schizophrenia share similar symptoms.

Using drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and amphetamines can trigger schizophrenia symptoms and make them worse. Even though substance abuse can not cause schizophrenia, around 50 percent of people with schizophrenia have a history of substance abuse.

Some of the symptoms of schizophrenia are:

  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized catatonic or motor behavior
  • Lack of motivation and more.

Our dual diagnosis programs at Avatar focus on treating schizophrenia and addiction simultaneously.

After a thorough neuropsychological assessment of the patient, our first step to recovery at Avatar in NJ is a detox program with an individualized treatment plan which integrates medication-assisted therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), family therapy to help addicts recover from addiction and schizophrenia. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps the patient and the therapists work on specific negative thought and behavior patterns and unlearn them.

Co-occurring Disorders Treatment in NJ at Avatar Residential Detox

Co-occurring disorders must be treated with an integrated treatment approach that brings together experts from various fields to treat patients based on their requirements, the severity of the addiction, and the health condition.

At Avatar, we believe in holistic treatment programs, which focus on treating Substance Abuse Disorders such as alcohol and drug addictions and co-occurring mental disorders such as bipolar mood disorders, depressive disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, suicidal or self-harm behaviors, schizophrenia, and more.

Avatar NJ begins patient admissions with an in-depth assessment of the patient’s condition and then formulate customized treatment programs for them.

The first step of our dual diagnosis treatment at Avatar, after admission, is often detoxification from the substance, which is accompanied by specialty therapies to help you cope with withdrawal symptoms.

The best dual disorder treatment programs combine standard medical treatments and rehabilitation programs such as the 12-step facilitation with psychiatric treatment and therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Group Therapy, Family therapy, personal counseling, and more. Our holistic approach towards recovery ensures an integrated treatment program for co-occurring disorders to aid our patients’ sustained recovery and personal growth.

At Avatar, we have the best medical professionals, psychiatrists, therapists, and medical staff on board, along with a serene and fully equipped facility to help our patients recover without any external stress.

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