Substance abuse problems are relatively common in teenagers diagnosed with mental health issues. When these two kinds of conditions appear together, they’re often called co-occurring disorders. Adults can also experience overlapping mental health and drug or alcohol problems. However, the specific mental health issues affecting teens often differ from those affecting adults. If your child’s mental health issue is accompanied by addiction, their symptoms can vary widely. That’s true because the effects of co-occurring conditions depend on the specific illness present in your teenager.
Understanding Co-Occurring Disorders
Roughly 60% to 75% of all U.S. teens with substance problems also have diagnosable mental health issues. Why is the overlap of these two kinds of situations so common? Researchers have identified several contributing factors. One common influence is using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate mental health issues. The harmful effects of addiction on normal brain function can also increase your child’s risks.
In addition, there are multiple shared risk factors for mental health issues and addiction. One factor shared by both conditions is the impact of unresolved trauma. Genetics also plays a significant role in many cases. Another common factor for both problems is excessive stress exposure.
Common Examples of Co-Occurring Disorders in Teens
Some forms of co-occurring disorders are common among both teens and adults. The primary example here is addiction combined with depression. Addiction combined with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an anxiety disorder is also widespread among adults and teenagers.
However, affected teens may also have mental health issues not found as often in adults. Top examples of co-occurring disorders more common among teenagers include:
- Oppositional defiant disorder and addiction
- Addiction and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Conduct disorder and addiction
Other addictions or mental health issues may also affect your child.
Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders in Teenagers
The symptoms of diagnosable substance problems can vary over a wide range. In fact, out of 11 possible symptoms, only two need to be present for a diagnosis. Mental health issues also have a tremendous range of potential effects. For this reason, the symptoms of co-occurring disorders are not the same for all teenagers. However, providing examples of what may affect your child is possible. For instance, common symptoms of teen depression include:
- Unusually poor performance in school
- Frequent feelings of guilt, sadness, or worthlessness
- Heightened sensitivity to failure or rejection
- Changes in regular sleep habits or appetite level
- Problems thinking clearly
- Unexplained irritability
- Social withdrawal
- Recurring thoughts of suicide or death
There are also common signs that your child may be addicted to drugs or alcohol. For example, they may be unusually moody or withdrawn. They may also start having problems at school or change their friendship groups. In addition, you may find alcohol or drug paraphernalia among your teen’s personal effects.
It can be challenging to spot the presence of co-occurring disorders. For help with a proper diagnosis, talk to your child’s doctor or an adolescent mental health expert.
Learn More About the Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders in Colorado at Imagine Fort Collins
Need help understanding co-occurring disorders? The professionals at Imagine Fort Collins are standing by. We’ll answer any question about the overlap of addiction and mental health issues. We can also provide detailed examples of any potential combination of these problems.
At Imagine Fort Collins, we specialize in teen mental health care. Our expertise also extends to the treatment of co-occurring disorders. No matter the specific conditions affecting your child, we can help. Contact Imagine Fort Collins today at 970.680.5887 to learn more about our customized recovery plans. You can also reach us through our online contact form.