Most Common Co-Occurring Disorders in Adolescents

A co-occurring disorder is actually made up of two distinct conditions: a mental health illness or disorder and substance abuse or dependence. This means that a teenager who suffers from depression or an anxiety disorder who also engages in substance abuse could be diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder during evaluation for treatment. According to thesis written by a graduate student at the University of Iowa, the research specific to teens who suffer from dual diagnosis conditions reveals several common aspects, such as:

  • The severity of the drug problem is often a factor in the presence of a co-occurring disorder.
  • The type of drugs abused is often related to the mental health disorder.
  • The deviant behavior of peers can have negative effects on both conditions.
  • A history of familial drug abuse can have negative effects on both conditions.

Overall, it’s hard to say which conditions occur more frequently than others when it comes to co-occurring disorders, because each person is unique. Two boys who were raised in the same home with the same parents, the same socioeconomic conditions and the same overall life experiences will often have two entirely different memories of their childhoods because they see with different eyes, hear with different ears, and process the information with different brains. The research study did find, however, that the issues of conditions that are more frequently found in adolescents, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or conduct disorders, were not sufficiently addressed in the research completed on adult individuals who suffer from co-occurring disorders.

The important aspect of co-occurring disorders as they relate to your child’s drug abuse issues is not what is most common, but rather what your son is currently experiencing. The best way to determine this is to complete a thorough assessment of his condition with medical providers who are adept and experienced with the diagnostic principles of co-occurring disorders. For instance, when you take your child to the doctor for a physical illness, such as frequent nausea or vomiting, the doctor may diagnose a common malady. If your child exhibits signs of depression or stress, you may take him to a psychologist who specializes in these types of condition. Unless the two specialists communicate directly, the common factor of substance abuse could be overlooked. After all, individuals who are abusing substances, particularly when they have developed an addiction, often lie to others about their real circumstances. If your son is abusing drugs because they make him feel better (that is, he feels that the drugs are medicating symptoms he doesn’t understand well enough), he may lie simply to continue abusing the drugs because he feels it is the only way to be well.

Getting the Right Kind of Professional Help

By finding help through an experience treatment center like Muir Wood, you can be certain that the clinicians who will assess your child’s needs are skilled in the process of diagnosing multiple conditions. Recognizing the link between behaviors and thought processes can help determine what kind of treatment is necessary and help the development of a program designed to specifically address your son’s condition. Treatment may include individual, group or family therapy, as well as confidence-building alternative methods to give your son a solid foundation from which to grow for the rest of his life.

When one of your children suffers, it can affect the entire family and it can make you feel completely overwhelmed. How do you make the right decisions? How do you even know what the right decisions are? We’re here to help clear away the cobwebs so you can make informed, intelligent and heartfelt decisions for your child. You don’t have to muddle through the process alone. Call Muir Wood today to learn more about how we can help.

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