Co-occurring Disorders Among Men

February 28, 2023

Written By: Buena Vista Recovery

Addiction and mental health disorders are incredibly difficult to overcome on their own. However, many individuals may be challenged with overcoming both their use of drugs or alcohol and mental health disorders in tandem, called “co-occurring disorders.” 

Co-occurring disorders can be exceptionally complicated for men navigating their recovery. Professional treatment is necessary to develop an effective, transformative recovery plan. Understanding the dangers of co-occurring disorders is instrumental in helping men create a personalized approach to overcome its challenges for a sober future. 

What Are Co-occurring Disorders?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines co-occurring disorders as “the coexistence of both a mental illness and a substance use disorder.” However, this definition is left intentionally broad and can describe the coupling of any mental health disorder with any kind of addictive substance.

For some, this can manifest as depression alongside the use of alcohol or bipolar disorder alongside the use of amphetamines. Anxiety, panic, trauma, PTSD, mood disorders, and more can each be coupled with an array of various addictive substances, from alcohol and marijuana to opioids, hallucinogens, and any other kind of drug.

Likewise, it is also possible to engage with multiple addictive substances, known as “polysubstance use.” An individual diagnosed with schizophrenia may engage with both alcohol and drugs, further complicating their recovery journey and necessitating the need for dedicated, professional treatment. 

The Prevalence of Co-occurring Disorders in Men

In addition to the challenges men face in overcoming mental health disorders and addiction, men are also commonly diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, with about 56 percent of adults in treatment for co-occurring disorders being men. Also, of those diagnosed with a serious mental health disorder, men are more likely than women to have engaged with addictive substances within the last year. 

However, understanding the reason for the number of men diagnosed with co-occurring disorders can be complicated. For many, the reluctance to pursue professional help for addressing their use of addictive substances can allow the disease to continue to develop. Men may also be more resistant to discussing their emotional and mental health needs due to prevalent cultural stigmas, despite the continued harm they can do. Because of these unnecessary barriers, some men may be less willing to reach out for help until both their use of addictive substances and their mental health have suffered, and this can create a very complicated situation in which to begin the recovery process. 

The Need for Professional Treatment

There is nothing easy about overcoming either substance use disorder (SUD) or any mental health disorder. Attempting to navigate them both in tandem can be incredibly daunting. Coupled with the idea that men are less likely to reach out for help regarding either their use of addictive substances or mental health needs, these two challenging dimensions can continue to inform each other. Professional treatment is necessary to create an effective and comprehensive recovery plan. 

For some, the use of additive substances may be birthed from trying emotional states. Pervasive feelings of anxiety or depression, stress from the workplace, or any other emotional challenges can all beget the use of drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. However, others may experience the onset of mental health disorders as a result of unchecked or unmoderated use of these substances, creating cyclic challenges and destructive tendencies for men with co-occurring disorders. No one, single strategy can be effective for addressing all challenges presented by co-occurring disorders. 

Recovery is about more than addressing a series of symptoms but rather an exercise in creating entirely new, healthy, and sober lifestyles. Professional treatment to explore how substance use and mental health disorders continue to inform each other and what it could mean for each person’s recovery journey, coping strategies, and relapse prevention plans is necessary. Addressing the use of drugs or alcohol without tending to underlying mental health disorders can leave an individual at an increased risk of relapse, while those overcoming prevalent mental health disorders may not discuss the drastic and destructive effects that addictive substances have had on their lives. 

Creating a Plan for Men to Overcome Co-occurring Disorders

Men may face their own personal barriers in recovery. Professional treatment to deconstruct stigmas and create a community of peers and professionals is necessary for the most transformative and effective healing journey. Prevalent drinking cultures and overly-masculine atmospheres may romanticize the use of drugs or alcohol or deny men the opportunity to navigate their emotional challenges. Creating a space devoid of such stigmas is essential for encouraging healing,g while building the skills to navigate vulnerability is necessary for effective recovery from co-occurring disorders. 

Each of those in recovery will have their own needs, and being able to personalize treatment to address the unique combination of substance and mental health disorders is necessary to create the best path to a healthy future. Connecting men with peers who have overcome such stigmas and professionals who encourage the necessary lifestyle changes is the first step in overcoming mental health disorders, addiction, and their influence on each other.

Co-occurring disorders are incredibly complicated. However, we at Buena Vista Recovery are prepared to help you not only understand but overcome the challenges presented in your unique situation. Our unique and personalized approach to each recovery plan can be customized to address your needs and goals in recovery. Our services can help you overcome substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders with the assistance of a community of peers and professionals alike. From comprehensive support to a continuum of care guiding you through detox, inpatient, and outpatient care, we can pace your recovery based on your needs at every stage. For more information on how we can help you, call to speak to us today at (480) 741-9414 or complete your insurance verification form.