Learn More About Drug Rehab & Co-Occurring Disorders in Colorado
Every year, more than 26% of Coloradoans face addiction or mental illness.
When you're struggling with one or more of these conditions, hope can be hard to come by. But treatment really does work, and AspenRidge not only helps you to get sober, we also help you begin charting a course to a life you can celebrate.
What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?
For generations, mental illness has been stigmatized as the domain of “crazy” people. When mental illness is portrayed on television, it's either in the form of a person having a mental breakdown or in the aftereffects of a psychiatric hospital visit. The reality, though, is that mental illness is extremely common, and few people with mental illness act overtly “crazy.” Indeed, people with mental illness often go to great extremes to conceal the effects of their condition. But concealing a disease won't make it go away, and the shame and stigma of mental illness can discourage people from seeking treatment – even though there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
In the parlance of mental health literature, a co-occurring disorder refers to any secondary mental health disorder that exists alongside an addiction. For instance, someone who has depression and who also struggles with alcohol addiction has a co-occurring disorder. Some doctors also use the term to refer to co-occurring health disorders. In this framework, a person who has diabetes and alcoholism would be diagnosed as having a co-occurring disorder as well.
The fact that a person has a co-occurring disorder in Colorado doesn't reveal any information about either condition. Sometimes the two conditions appear around the same time. Sometimes one causes the other, such as when excessive alcohol consumption leads to a divorce, thereby contributing to depression. A handful of people with mental illness develop an addiction to drugs used to treat their mental health problem.
In many cases, a mental health condition directly contributes to the development of addiction. Life with mental illness is hard, especially if you don't get the treatment you need and deserve in Colorado.
All too many people with mental illness turn to addictive substances to self-medicate. While this might work for a while, it almost inevitably makes the underlying mental health difficulty worse.
Though co-occurring disorders can make life miserable, you don't have to live with the misery. Both addiction and mental illness are highly treatable. At AspenRidge, we provide quality drug rehab in Colorado that tackles the issue of dual-diagnosis. Perhaps more importantly, these conditions will not get better on their own; instead, they're more likely to get worse. Delaying treatment is little more than a form of self-abuse that does nothing but ensure that, when you finally do seek alcohol or drug treatment in Colorado, it will take more time and effort.
Just about any drug that changes the way you think can become addictive. Despite this fact, 80% of high schoolers report believing that prescription drugs are less addictive than alcohol or street drugs. This belief is false. A drug's legal status at any given time is a mere fluke. What really matters is how the drug affects your body and brain.
The Disease Model of Addiction and Mental Illness
People living in Colorado who struggle with addiction or mental illness often spend years in a state of self-blame. Tragically, our society still stigmatizes both problems, treating those with addiction and mental illness as pariahs, as irresponsible, or even as dangerous. The truth, though, is that people with mental illness are far more likely to be crime victims than crime perpetrators. Don't listen to the stigma. Your co-occurring disorder does not mean you're not capable of being a productive member of society, and it most certainly doesn't mean you're “crazy.” Instead, both conditions are legitimate medical conditions that produce measurable, predictable changes in the body.
Addiction works by first creating a tolerance. As your tolerance grows, the high you get is greatly reduced, thus encouraging you to use larger and larger quantities of the drug. This process helps explain why so many addicts accidentally overdose. If you continue using after building a tolerance, you may become chemically dependent on drugs or alcohol. Chemical dependency convinces you that you need a drug to survive. When you try to quit using, intense withdrawal symptoms are the result. In some cases, these symptoms can even turn deadly.
Mental illness and drug addiction in Colorado is a bit more complicated, since every mental illness acts through its own unique mechanisms. Most, though, result from a combination of the right brain chemistry and the right environment. For instance, you might be vulnerable to depression, but your brain chemistry will only change sufficiently to result in depression if you're exposed to stress or trauma. There are hundreds of mental illnesses, each with their own set of causes. If you're not sure what's caused the condition from which you suffer, talk to your doctor, who can help you better understand your diagnosis.
Co-Occurring Disorders and Behavioral Addictions
Behavioral addictions are sometimes grouped under the rubric of co-occurring disorders, since behavioral addictions look quite different from drug and alcohol addictions. Nevertheless, behavioral addictions are real addictions that show similar brain activity to addictions such as heroin, alcohol, and methamphetamine. There is help for co-occurring disorders in Colorado. Drug rehab in Denver, may be just what you need.
For some recovering addicts, behavioral addictions serve as substitutes for the high that comes with a chemical addiction. Some behaviors trigger dopamine and serotonin production in the brain more than others. Though any behavior can become addictive, those that involve risk-taking, motivation, and the possibility of a big reward are the riskiest. As you repeatedly engage in the behavior, it can turn addictive, with chemicals in your brain acting exactly how they would if you were using drugs. Thus behavior addicts get a drug-free high that's just as dangerous, with just as many life consequences, as abuse of alcohol and drugs.
Anything that you really enjoy can become addictive. It's possible, though unlikely, that you'll become addicted to gardening or to playing with your dog. More typically, though, it's demanding and high-risk behaviors that result in addiction.
Some of the most common behavioral addictions include:
Gambling addiction is the most pervasive behavioral addiction in Colorado, with between 10% and 15% of the population struggling. Though all addictions can prove dangerous, gambling addiction is uniquely equipped to truly destroy a life. It's possible to gamble away your life's savings in a single session, and most forms of gambling remain illegal. Thus gambling addicts subject themselves to an ever-increasing cascade of dangers, ranging from dealing with dangerous bookies to gambling at seedy underground locations. The symptoms of gambling addiction include:
- Continuing gambling even when you're losing
- Gambling to earn a living, or to earn back money you've lost
- Feeling high, shaky, or like your judgment is compromised when you gamble
- Being unable to stop gambling even when you want to
- Breaking the law to gamble
Shopping addiction is an increasingly common affliction, no doubt due in part to the heavy commercialization in our society. We're all pressured to keep up with the Joneses, and for shopping addicts, this pressure can turn into an obsession. Everyone shops to excess sometimes, but for shopping addicts, shopping is a basic necessity of life, not to mention something they can't avoid doing. Symptoms of an addiction to shopping include:
- Spending all of the money you have such that you can't pay bills or meet other obligations
- Spending large quantities of money, relative to your income, in short periods of time
- Going into debt to spend money
- Buying things you never use
- Experiencing intense remorse after a shopping spree
- Lying to others about what you've bought or concealing purchases from your partner
Sex is a powerful drug that can ease depression, boost self-esteem, and intensify the connection n your most intimate relationships. But sex can also be a source of disconnection, a way to remove yourself from your emotions and harm those you love the most. When sex turns addictive, addicts expose themselves to STIs, fractured relationships, the perils of sleeping with strangers, and similar risks. Some signs of sex addiction include:
- Paying for sex
- Being unable to go without sex when it's not available
- Masturbating to pornography multiple times every day
- Lying to your partners about who else you're sleeping with
- Wanting to be monogamous, but being unable to
- Being dishonest even in non-monogamous relationships; people with a sex addiction sometimes become polyamorous, but continue to lie to their partners about sex.
- Engaging in harmful or illegal sexual behavior, such as having sex with a stranger without a condom or sleeping with someone who is underage
Surveys consistently find that a majority of Americans report being “addicted” to technological devices. And it does appear that there's a rising tide of technology and video game addiction. True addiction, though, interferes with every area of your life. There's nothing wrong with loving your smart phone or playing video games every now and again. If you deal with several of the following symptoms, though, you could be an addict:
- Checking your smart phone every chance you get
- Sacrificing extensive time with family to play with technological devices
- Playing video games instead of working or spending time with family
- Spending all of your spare time playing with technological devices
- Feeling anxious when you have to go without a digital device
- Dreaming about video games
Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment in Colorado
Most people who struggle with co-occurring disorders in Colorado put on a happy face and go about their lives everyday. It's likely you encounter people who suffer from co-occurring disorders everywhere you go, but you likely don't know it. Understanding that co-occurring disorders are common, though, can help remove some of their stigma and mystique, thereby encouraging you to seek the drug rehab in Denver you need.
Roughly 25% of the population will struggle with depression at some point during their lives, and in any given year, a quarter of the Colorado population suffers from at least one mental illness. The incidence of PTSD, a stress and trauma-related condition is on the rise, due in part to the high rape and domestic violence rate and the return of soldiers from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Think the problem is just a problem in the United States? Think again. Depression and anxiety are now among the leading causes of disability worldwide, suggesting that these disorders are common across cultures.
How Co-Occurring Disorders Complicate Addiction Treatment in Denver
It's tempting to think you can ignore your mental illness, sign up for a 12-step program, and then go back to your normal life. Or maybe you believe that if you seek treatment for your mental health, your addiction will go away. But the two conditions are inextricably linked. Indeed, this is precisely why they are called co-occurring disorders! You can't treat one without treating the other.
Kicking your addiction means facing up to some uncomfortable feelings. The overwhelming majority of addicts report experiencing feelings of depression, anxiety, and even trauma as they go through withdrawal. If you have an underlying mental health condition that you don't treat, you might mistakenly believe that life is better with drugs or alcohol. But with proper treatment, your symptoms will soon go away.
To truly recover, you need comprehensive mental health and drug treatment in Colorado. AspenRidge offers precisely that: including co-occurring disorder treatment.
Signs of a Co-Occurring Disorder
For some addicts, the addiction is a predictable response to the pain of living with mental illness. For others, though, the mental illness is either a byproduct of the addiction or something that happens after the addiction first appears. If this sounds familiar, then you might not even be sure whether you have a co-occurring disorder, let alone which disorder you have. It's important to note that there are hundreds of mental illnesses, so if you feel like you can't control your behavior, you think very differently from others, or loved ones have expressed concerns that you might be mentally ill, talk to a therapist.
Only a trained mental health expert can diagnose you for sure. Some of the most common mental health disorders, as well as their symptoms, include:
Depression is a mood disorder characterized by chronic feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Several subtypes of this disorder exist, including seasonal affective disorder, which occurs on a seasonal basis, and dysthymia, which lasts for a long time but results in less severe symptoms than major depression. Some symptoms of a depressive disorder include:
- Difficulty in your relationships with others; many people with depression become introverted, withdrawn, or even angry.
- Chronic feelings of sadness.
- Frequent crying.
- Feeling upset about nothing in particular, or about an ever-shifting list of daily stressors.
- Changes in appetite or sleeping habits.
- Unexplained aches or pains.
- Worsening health symptoms.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Feeling guilt, shame, or hopelessness.
- Feelings of self-loathing; you might, for example, believe you're unworthy of help.
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes you to swing from intense feelings of happiness and mania to the intense lows of depression. During depressive swings, you may feel some or all of the symptoms listed above for depression. During manic episodes, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Intense feelings of importance, intelligence, or competence.
- Intense sexual feelings.
- A sense that y can do anything.
- Increased energy; many people do not sleep or eat during a manic episode.
- Extreme happiness.
- Aggression, anger, or anxiety.
Though many people conceive of eating disorders as a single type of condition, medical professionals actually recognize three distinct types of eating disorders. With bulimia, a person binges on large quantities of food, then purges the food through the use of laxatives, enemas, vomiting, and similar means. Many people with bulimia do not lose weight, but they do often suffer tooth decay, organ failure, dehydration, and extreme malnutrition.
Anorexia is a starvation disorder. People with anorexia go for long periods without eating any food. Some also engage in compulsive exercise, or exhibit symptoms of bulimia. With anorexia, the focus is on getting and staying thin. People with anorexia often show signs of perfectionism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Binge eating disorder is a lot like bulimia. But unlike bulimics, binge eaters eat large quantities of food in a single sitting without later purging. Consequently, many people with binge eating disorder are extremely obese. Some also suffer from nutritional imbalances and food-related health difficulties.
Anxiety disorders are a class of conditions, not a single disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) results in prolonged, chronic bouts of anxiety that seem to have no real cause and that aren't relieved by normal measures. Many people with GAD experience intense physical symptoms of anxiety, such as vomiting, nausea, or a pit in the stomach. Over time, this constant anxiety can give rise to health problems, including muscle aches and pains and cardiovascular disease.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a reaction to traumas such as rape, military combat, abuse, or a near-death experience. People with this condition experience intense memories of the event known as flashbacks. They also suffer with anxiety and depression, may take dramatic steps to avoid things that remind them of the trauma, and are often “triggered” by things that seem unrelated to the trauma. For example, a rape victim might smell the deodorant her rapist wore and have a panic attack as a result.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder results in obsessive and intrusive anxious thoughts. Often these thoughts center around a specific worry, such as being burglarized or getting into a car wreck. To alleviate these thoughts, people with OCD engage in compulsive rituals such as washing their hands, counting objects, counting things, or muttering phrases under their breath.
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that causes intense, sudden, unexpected panic attacks. These panic attacks can be physically painful and terrifying. Indeed, most people who have their first panic attack think they're having a heart attack. Over time, the panic attacks can grow so intense that a person with panic disorder does not want to leave their house.
Personality disorders are long-standing patterns of relating to oneself and others in unhealthy ways. These disorders are challenging to diagnose and even more challenging to treat. But if you have a long-standing pattern of abnormally chaotic or dysfunctional relationships, you could have a personality disorder. Some personality disorders include:
- Borderline personality disorder, which is characterized by a chronic fear of abandonment, manipulation, and seeing people in black and white terms.
- Narcissistic personality disorder, which results in intense self-aggrandizement and an inability to cater to the needs of others.
- Histrionic personality disorder results in exaggerated reactions to even small sources of stress.
- Antisocial personality disorder causes a person not to follow social norms. Some people with this disorder even take pleasure in hurting others.
Schizophrenia is a challenging disorder that causes psychosis, a disconnection from reality. There is help for Schizophrenia in Colorado. Its intensity and severity varies, but common symptoms include:
- Strange or nonsensical beliefs. For instance, people with schizophrenia may adopt conspiracies, believe they are more powerful than they are, or become paranoid.
- Unusual behavior or appearance
- Delusions – false beliefs
- Hallucinations – hearing or seeing things that aren't really there
If you're concerned that you may have a mental health condition, don't beat yourself up. Instead, just seek the help you deserve in Colorado. Mental illness is treatable, but only when you are willing to seek help. AspenRidge offers some of the best mental health and substance abuse treatment in Denver, Colorado.
Signs of an Addiction
When you develop an addiction, you're no longer in control of your own life. Instead, that job falls to alcohol and drugs. It's unsurprising, then, that many addicts don't want to acknowledge how little control they have over their addiction. Denial won't stop addiction from hurting you and those you love the most. The best thing you can do for yourself, your family, and your life is to seek treatment now in Colorado.
Still not sure whether you qualify as an addict? Here are several common symptoms of addiction:
- You sacrifice time with your friends or family to use alcohol or drugs.
- Alcohol or drugs are the focal point of your day.
- You spend a lot of time with other addicts.
- You've done things you regret or can't remember while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- You're convinced you'll never be able to quit.
- You lie to others about how frequently you use alcohol or drugs.
- You experience physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms without alcohol or drugs.
- Others have asked you to quit using.
- You use alcohol or drugs to minimize the symptoms of a physical or mental health condition.
Treatment for Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders in Colorado
If you have a co-occurring disorder and live in Colorado, going for the least involved form of treatment is probably a bad idea. You might be worried about time or financial constraints, but rehab in Colorado is surprisingly affordable. By seeking rehab now, you may even save yourself some time in the long run, since you'll be less likely to be arrested due to your addiction and better equipped to face the challenges of everyday life.
Rehab in Colorado blends a combination of several different treatments, including:
Both addiction and mental illness are medical conditions, which means that any good treatment program in Colorado begins with a consultation with a skilled physician. Your doctor can do a number of things to help you get better, including:
- Assessing whether you are healthy enough o go through withdrawal
- Prescribing medications that can reduce your cravings or counteract the symptoms of detox
- Correctly diagnosing your mental health condition
- Making suggestions about steps you can take to improve your chances of long-term recovery
- Intervening if you experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms, drug interactions, or other complications during your recovery
Prescription drugs play a key role in treating mental health conditions. Virtually every condition comes with at least a few drug options, and some, such as depression and anxiety, pose dozens of options. As with any medical treatment, mental health medications frequently come with side effects. It's up to you to determine which side effects you can and cannot live with, but know that side effects often dissipate as the medication becomes effective. Consequently, unless the side effects are dangerous or unbearable, it's wise to give the drug a chance before discontinuing treatment.
Many people with mental illness find that they have to try several medications – or combinations of medications – before they arrive at something that works. Thus it's wise to be honest with your provider, to track the effects of each drug, and to stick with it until something works. Something almost always does.
Therapy rests at the foundation of just about any good treatment program for co-occurring disorders. In therapy, you can explore the factors that contribute to your condition, talk openly about the stress you face, and explore healthier coping skills than using drugs.
Some approaches to therapy work better than others to manage specific problems. For instance, people with post-traumatic stress disorder in Colorado do very well with exposure therapy, but often fare poorly with cognitive-behavioral therapy. It's important to talk to your therapist about the specific treatment protocols he or she plans to use, and to openly share your goals for treatment. A good therapist is happy to answer questions, and patients who act as strong advocates for themselves are more likely to get good results. Consider asking your therapist the following questions:
- What specific treatment approach do you plan to use with me? Can we make changes if it doesn't work?
- How do you know treatment will work? Can you tell me about the research?
- What will we do if the first thing we try doesn't work?
- What can I do to improve my chances of getting better?
- How will we know if we're a good fit to work together? If we're not, can you refer me to someone else?
- Are you able to respect my values?
- How long have you been a therapist?
- How much experience do you have treating people with conditions similar to mine?
- How long will therapy take?
- What steps do you take to protect my confidentiality? In what circumstances would you violate confidentiality?
It might seem strange, but research consistently shows that some addicts are able to get better without ever consulting a doctor or expert. 12-step programs in Colorado offer peer-based support to help you recover from addiction and move forward with your life. Most 12-step programs are free, and many allow you to select a sponsor. When the going gets rough, this is a person you can call for additional support and advice.
Unfortunately, 12-step programs in Colorado will not “cure” mental illness, but they can make the prospect of life as a recovering addict with a co-occurring disorder more manageable. And in some areas, support groups are even offering assistance to those struggling with mental health disorders. Organizations such as Overeaters Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous work to stem the tide of pain caused by these illnesses. And for families of addicts, groups such as Nar-Anon, Al-Anon, Nar-a-Teen, and Al-a-Teen offer excellent assistance.
No lifestyle change will cure you of your addiction. Addiction and mental illness are diseases that last a lifetime, which means they can only be treated, not cured. However, a supportive environment and a healthy lifestyle can make the process easier while reducing your risk of a relapse. Some healthy strategies to consider include:
- Getting plenty of exercise
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Getting enough sleep each night, and sleeping according to a regular sleep schedule
- Staying socially active; people who get enough social support have better luck with the recovery journey.
- Pursuing old hobbies or developing new ones
Understanding the Addiction Recovery Process in Denver, Colorado
The journey to sobriety in Colorado is often a windy road, not a straight and narrow path. Understanding what recovery looks like can help you prepare yourself for the work ahead. In general, the first few weeks are the worst. During this time, you're probably going through detox and experiencing intense withdrawal. If you have a mental illness, you may even feel suicidal.
As detox wanes and your body gets accustomed to life without drugs or alcohol, things get better. This is the time to begin thinking about the future, exploring why you became an addict, and evaluating various recovery strategies. As you do this, you may begin finding hope for the future for the very first time.
You might worry that your drug or alcohol cravings will last forever, especially if you're in the throes of withdrawal right now. But cravings aren't forever. During alcohol or drug detox in Colorado, you may experience one long craving, but eventually, your cravings will become discrete, manageable events. Over time, they'll slowly disappear until you experience no cravings at all.
It's important to note that both addiction and mental illness are chronic, incurable illnesses. Once you are an addict, you are an addict for life. In most situations, this won't change anything about your daily existence. It does, however, mean that you have to be very careful about the prospect of addiction. No matter how long you've been recovered, you cannot try drugs or alcohol again, even once. You also shouldn't' try any new substances, and your medical providers absolutely must know about your history of addiction. This knowledge can help them make intelligent medical decisions while helping you avoid a relapse.
Relapse is common, with between 40% and 60% of recovering addicts relapsing at least once. You can avoid a relapse by steadfastly avoiding drugs and alcohol no matter what. Even if you do fall of the wagon, though, there's hope for a brighter tomorrow. Research shows that the odds of recovery actually increase with every relapse, probably because relapses enable addicts to learn more about themselves and their addictions.
Mental illness is similar. You may be better for a long time, only to find yourself falling into mental health symptoms again. Some people with mental illness feel better after taking medication, and mistakenly believe they are cured. The truth is that you'll probably need to take medication for a long time. But with the right treatment, good therapy, and a dedication to long-term recovery, you can avoid the misery of severe mental illness for the long-term.
How AspenRidge Treats Co-Occurring Disorders in Colorado
At AspenRidge, we get that life with a co-occurring disorder is inherently hard. Many addicts walk through our doors feeling deeply demoralized after trying dozens of treatments that didn't work. But at AspenRidge, we never stop working until we find a solution. Maybe the first thing – or the first 10 things – you did not help you. We'll keep trying, though, and we'll encourage you even when the going gets tough.
Our world-class team of experts in Colorado has treated everything from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia, and we've worked with every type of addict from every walk of life. We know what works, and we're constantly updating our offerings with new treatment protocols based on cutting-edge research. At AspenRidge, you're not a guinea pig for someone's addiction research project; you're a valued guest who gets treatment that works in Colorado.
For us, sobriety isn't enough. We know that addiction and mental illness can wreak havoc upon your relationships. We'll work with you and your family to help repair these relationships that are so vital to your long-term happiness and recovery. And then we'll help you set your goals figure out how best to achieve them, and keep your eye on the prize. We're in it with you for the long haul, and once you're a part of the AspenRidge family and community, you're part of us for life. We'll always be here for you when you need us.