Guiding Road Recovery Center

Arizona Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment Center

Conquering Co-Occurring Disorders: Your Path to Recovery

Dealing with a co-occurring disorder—when mental health issues intertwine with substance abuse—can feel overwhelming and isolating. This dual struggle doesn't just affect the individual; it profoundly impacts family life and overall quality of life. For those suffering, daily challenges can range from managing intense emotions and unpredictable behaviors to coping with the physical toll of substance abuse. Families often find themselves caught in a whirlwind of worry, confusion, and helplessness, straining relationships and creating an environment of constant stress. Understanding and addressing co-occurring disorders is crucial, not just for the individual’s recovery, but for restoring harmony and hope to their loved ones. At Guiding Road, we believe in a holistic approach that supports both individuals and families on their journey to healing.

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About Co-Occurring Disorder



A co-occurring disorder is when someone has both a mental health issue and a substance abuse problem at the same time. For example, imagine a person who struggles with depression. To cope with their feelings of sadness and hopelessness, they start drinking alcohol regularly. Over time, they develop a dependency on alcohol, which makes their depression worse. This creates a cycle where the mental health issue and the substance abuse problem feed into each other, making it harder for the person to recover without addressing both issues simultaneously.


  • Genetic Predisposition: Family history of mental health issues or substance abuse can increase the risk.
  • Brain Chemistry: Imbalances in brain chemicals can contribute to both mental health disorders and addiction.
  • Trauma: Experiencing traumatic events, such as abuse or loss, can lead to both mental health issues and substance abuse as a coping mechanism.
  • Environmental Factors: Stressful living conditions, peer pressure, and exposure to substance use can trigger both disorders.
  • Self-Medication: Using substances to manage symptoms of a mental health disorder can lead to addiction and worsen the mental health issue.
  • Chronic Stress: Persistent stress from work, relationships, or other sources can contribute to the development of both mental health problems and substance abuse.


Behavioral Symptoms:
  • Increased Substance Use: Using drugs or alcohol more frequently or in larger amounts.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: Failing to meet work, school, or home obligations.
  • Social Withdrawal: Avoiding friends, family, and social activities.
  • Changes in Behavior: Engaging in risky or reckless behaviors, such as driving under the influence or unsafe sex.
  • Financial Problems: Struggling with money due to spending on substances or inability to work.
Physical Symptoms:
  • Physical Health Problems: Experiencing health issues related to substance use, such as weight loss, fatigue, or infections.
Psychological Symptoms:
  • Intense Mood Swings: Frequent and severe changes in mood, such as extreme highs and lows.
  • Cognitive Impairments: Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things.
  • Persistent Mental Health Symptoms: Ongoing symptoms of mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or paranoia, despite efforts to manage them.
  • Relationship Strain: Experiencing conflict, tension, or breakdowns in relationships with loved ones.

Health Risks

  • Increased Risk of Suicide: Higher likelihood of suicidal thoughts and behaviors due to compounded mental health issues and substance abuse.
  • Severe Mental Health Deterioration: Worsening of symptoms for conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
  • Substance Overdose: Greater risk of overdose due to excessive and uncontrolled substance use.
  • Chronic Physical Health Problems: Development of long-term health issues such as liver disease, heart disease, respiratory problems, and infectious diseases (e.g., HIV/AIDS, hepatitis).
  • Cognitive Impairment: Long-term cognitive deficits, including memory loss, reduced problem-solving skills, and impaired judgment.
  • Social and Relationship Issues: Strained or broken relationships, social isolation, and difficulties in maintaining healthy social interactions.
  • Financial Instability: Increased financial problems due to spending on substances and inability to maintain employment.
  • Legal Problems: Higher likelihood of encountering legal issues due to behaviors associated with substance abuse, such as driving under the influence or other criminal activities.
  • Homelessness: Increased risk of becoming homeless due to inability to maintain stable housing as a result of financial and social instability.
  • Increased Vulnerability to Violence: Higher risk of experiencing or perpetrating violence, including domestic violence, as a result of substance-induced aggression or impaired judgment.

Know The Facts

research from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that individuals with co-occurring disorders face a mortality rate that is two to four times higher than the general population, underscoring the critical need for comprehensive treatment and support.

Co-Occurring Disorder FAQs

Guiding Road Recovery Center

Hope for Co-Occurring Disorder

Our scientifically proven and individualized approach can help you or a loved one recover from Co-Occurring Disorder.


Page Sources

Bobby Boykin, MS, LASAC, CRS

Executive Director
This article has been clinically reviewed by Bobby, a Licensed Associate Substance Abuse Counselor (LASAC) and Certified Recovery Specialist (CRS) at Guiding Road.
Last Reviewed
May 18, 2024

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