Pumpkin spice lattes, warm toned leaves, and a crisper air are finally here! We love the fall and all it’s feelings. However, not everyone shares our excitement for the change seasons. Some people experience dips in their mood during the fall/winter seasons, so they don’t look forward to it’s arrival. We know this as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Aside from it’s unpleasant symptoms, it can also come hand in hand with addiction as well. Depression and addiction never make a good relationship.

The U.S. is struggling with its fight against the rise of opiate addiction and overdose. Abuse of heroin continues to be an issue, but the silent damage is being done by the misuse of prescription opioids: painkillers. Between 1999-2015, over 180,000 people have died from opioid overdoses. And over 1,000 people are admitted to emergency rooms daily for opioid related accidents or side effects. This is an unfortunate challenge that our country is faced because not only are we dealing with illicit drugs, but medically legal drugs as well.


Individuals living with bipolar disorder have an increased risk of abusing drugs and alcohol, especially those who experience extreme shifts in mood. However, bipolar disorder isn’t just about mood swings - it dramatically affects a person’s emotional state, cognitive functioning, judgement, and behavior. A person experiencing extreme fluctuations in mood and energy levels is more willing to take anything to get rid of their discomfort. According to The National Alliance on Mental Health, 56 percent of people with bipolar disorder have a history of illicit drug abuse, while 44 percent have abused or are dependent on alcohol. The combination of severe bipolar disorder and addiction increases the risk of negative and unhealthy outcomes.

Not many people are familiar with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), but 1% of the population suffers from it. This is another common co-occurring disorder seen paired with addiction to drugs or alcohol. Just like all other dual diagnoses, we can’t just treat addiction and abstain from substances. We need to take care of the mental health related component as well. In this case, Borderline Personality Disorder.

Addiction is not an easy battle to fight. For some, it seems nearly impossible to recover. Unfortunately, they might be right; there could be a deeper reason for that struggle. There’s a chance someone could be dealing with co-occurring disorders and not even know it. Not many people are familiar with it to begin with. So what are co-occurring disorders?


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