Many people face substance abuse issues while battling a mental or cognitive disorder. Approximately 8.9 million people in the United States have co-occurring disorders; and only about 7% of these people seek treatment for both conditions. If you or someone you know has a co-occurring disorder, integrated treatment or treatment that addresses mental and substance use conditions at the same time can help various aspects of their life improve. Examples of positive outcomes from treatment include: 1
- Improved quality of life.
- Better functioning.
- Decreased number of hospital visits.
- Increase in stable housing.
- Less arrests.
Furthermore, outcomes from highly effective treatment for co-occurring substance use and mental disorders are as follows: 2
- Hope, the wellspring of motivation.
- Self-determination, which reflects the unique capacity of each person to forge ahead and make personal choices impacting recovery.
- Respect from professionals treating these individuals as people worthy of respect.
Cognitive disorders can make it difficult for a person to interact with others, and in some cases, the deterioration of the mind can be troublesome enough to lead a person to drinking or substance abuse. Rehab and recovery treatment centers for cognitive disorders and substance abuse aim to address this problem, but there are many layers to consider. A substance addiction can worsen a mental health disorder because individuals with mental health disorders are more biologically sensitive to the effects of psychoactive drugs.3
Medications used for treatments might cause addiction or dependency, and difficulties with work or emotional situations can ultimately lead to drinking or taking more drugs than normal to reduce stress. However one of the great strengths of addiction treatment today is the ability of its professionals to ensure that such risks are greatly reduced in an integrated setting with great teamwork. 4
Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol can make these cognitive disorders worse, and in many cases they will only make the symptoms more prominent while adding side effects that are dangerous. 5 Additionally, taking prescribed medications unnecessarily or in combination with illicit drugs or alcohol may lead to serious consequences.
Call our 24-hour helpline at 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? for information on a rehabilitation center for cognitive disorders and substance abuse near you. Our helpful team will work to help you find the substance abuse center that will be able to help you or a loved one with a dual-diagnosis condition get the immediate medical care needed.
Intellectual Disability and Substance Abuse
“Additionally, taking prescribed medications unnecessarily or in combination with illicit drugs or alcohol may lead to serious consequences.”
Intellectual disability is also known as general learning disability. This disorder appears before a person becomes an adult, and historically requires an intelligence quotient (IQ) of under 70. Individuals who become frustrated with their situations may be prone to alcohol or drug abuse, as they are less likely to know or understand the damaging effects.6
Parkinson’s disease is believed to be genetic. It can be recognized by the lack of dopamine-generating cells. Drugs that use and destroy dopamine-generating cells can advance this disease.
Parkinson’s disease may include dementia as well. According to HelpGuide.org, dementia occurs in approximately 20 percent of people who have Parkinson’s disease. There is normally a 10- to 15-year gap between the onset of Parkinson’s disease and the onset of dementia.
Amnestic Disorder and Substance Use
Amnestic disorders are a group of disorders that involve the loss of memories. The loss of the ability to create new memories and the loss of the ability to learn new information may also occur. There are two basic causes, one being a general medical condition that can produce memory disturbances and the second being exposure to chemicals such as an illicit drug.
Huntington’s disease is a neurodegenerative genetic disorder. This disorder leads to the decline of cognitive functionality and may cause psychiatric problems. The disease is caused by an autosomal dominant mutation. Depression and anxiety, as well as a reduced display of emotions and compulsive behavior, may result in addictions. Common addictions that result are alcoholism, hypersexuality, and gambling.
Delirium and Drugs
Delirium is diagnosed when a person presents with severe confusion and disorientation. Delirium has a rapid onset and may have varying degrees of intensity. Delirium can be caused by infection, drug effects, hallucinogens, and other causes, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
This type of dementia is caused by a lack of blood supply and oxygen to the brain. This may be caused by a number of small strokes. The brain may also develop vascular lesions.
Dementia Associated With Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
“Alcohol-related dementia is caused by long-term drinking that results in neurological damage and trouble with mental processing.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and psychiatric problems, which may include depression, anxiety, and some forms of dementia. Alcoholic dementia may present as impaired planning and apathy that mimics the symptoms of depression. This is caused by alcohol’s effect on the brain cells. Alcohol-related dementia is caused by long-term drinking that results in neurological damage and trouble with mental processing. This normally occurs in people over the age of 65. 6
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 5.3 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia related to Alzheimer’s disease includes a progressive loss of memory, mood changes or disorder, and problems with reasoning and communication. Symptoms are caused by the death of brain cells due to Alzheimer’s disease.
Getting Help for Substance Abuse Related to Cognitive Issues
At a rehabilitation center, individuals with these conditions will be treated with an integrated program which includes therapy, counseling, and medication as needed. Inpatient therapy may be recommended and you will want to look for a program that focuses on treatment of co-occurring disorders along with specific needs.7 8 9
 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2008 and 2009. Retrieved from http://media.samhsa.gov/co-occurring/
 Gingerich, S., and Mueser, K.T. (2011). IMR Illness Management and Recovery: Personalized Skills and Strategies for Those with Mental Illness. Center City, Minnesota: Dartmouth PRC/Hazelden.
 NAADAC’s Life-Long Learning Series (2010). Integrating Treatment for Co-occurring Disorders: An Introduction to What Every Addiction Counselor Needs to Know. Alexandria, VA: NAADAC. Retrieved from http://www.naadac.org/assets/1959/cod_manual_peek.pdf
 Zweben, J.E., and Ries, R.K. (2009). Integrating Psychosocial Services with Pharmacotherapies in the Treatment of Co-occurring Disorders. In Ries, R.K. et al., pp. 1239-1248.
 Chan, L-K, and Anderson, G.D. (2014). Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Drug Interactions with Ethanol (Alcohol). Clin Pharmacokinet 53:1115-1136.
 American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.
 Nunes, E.V., and Weiss, R.D. (2009). Co-occurring Addiction and Anxiety Disorders. In Ries, R.K. et al., Editors. Principles of Addiction Medicine. Fourth Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. pp. 1151-1182.
 Waldrop, A.E., et al. (2009). Co-occurring Addiction and Psychotic Disorders. In Ries, R.K. et al., pp. 1183-1192.
 Ziedonis, D., et al. (2009) Co-occurring Addiction and Psychotic Disorders. In Ries, R.K. et al., pp. 1193-1210.
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