Many women have a combination of substance abuse and other diagnosible issues. For treatment to be effective the two must be defined then treated and managed appropriately. Here are a few co-occuring conditions we see regularly at Brookhaven.
A mood disorder may be discribed as an inappropriate, exagerated or a limited range of feelings or emotions.
Everyone feels "down" sometimes and everybody experiences feelings of excitment or emotional pleasure. However when a woman has a mood disorder, these feelings or emotions are experienced to the extreme. Many women with substance use disorders also have co-occuring mood disorder and tend to use a variety of drugs in association with their mood disorder.
Instead of just feeling "down" a woman might not be able to work or function at home, might feel suicidal, loose her appetite and feel very tired or fatigued. Other symptoms can include loss of interest, weight shifts, changes in sleeping , unregulated appetite, feelings of worthlessness, loss of concentration, unable to accomplish simple taks and recurrent thoughts of death.
This has feelings that are toward the opposite extreme of depression. There may be an excess of energy where sleep is not needed for days at a time. A woman may be feeling " on top of the world" yet during this time the womans decision making process might be significantly impaired. Excessive decisions can be made such as wild shopping sprees. The woman may also experience irritability and have aggresive outbursts although she may think such an outburst is quite normal and rational.
A woman with bipolar disorder cycles between episodes of mania and depression. These episodes are characterized by a distinct period of abnormally elevated, expansive or irritable mood. Symptoms may include inflated self esteem decreased need for sleep, being more talkative than usual, flight of ideas or a feeling that one's thoughts are racing, distractibility, increase in goal directed activity. Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences ( sexual activity, shopping etc.) Alcohol consumption to an excessive degree is common during periods of mania.
Some anxiety is common to most women. This is seen in early recovery.
However other anxiety disorders need particular assessment and treatment such as social phobia ( a fear of appearing or speaking in front of groups) Panic disorder which is recurrent panic attacks that usually last a few hours, cause great fear and make it hard to breathe. Postraumatic stress disorders which cause recurrent nightmares, anxiety, depression and the experience of reliving the traumatic issue.
It is very important in the program for such issues to be carefully assessed and appropriate treatment planning taking such disorders into account.
Some of these conditions may be substance abuse induced and become resolved. For other women such conditions exist independently.
Integrated treatment is a means of actively combining a variety of modalities intended to address substance use and mental disorders in order to treat both disorders, related problems and the whole woman more effectively.
Women with co-occuring disorders have usually experienced personal and social problems that have given rise to specific life problems. ( Housing, legal or family matters) Solving such problems is part of the engaement in the program at Brookhaven and remaining in treatment for an adequate length of time is essential to achieving behavioral change and life realignment.
A womans treatment may be complicated by legal issues , health status or other issues but these should not be barriers to receiving the care you need and deserve.