Tackling Co-Occurring Disorders: How to Manage Both Mental Health Issues and Benzodiazepine Dependency

by | Sep 6, 2023

Addiction can be a challenging and isolating struggle, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. If you are seeking addiction treatment in Louisville, Kentucky, there is hope.

Co-occurring disorders where a mental health issue and substance abuse occur at the same time present a unique and complex challenge. This also goes for benzodiazepine dependency and mental health issues.

Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are a group of drugs that slow down activity in the brain and nervous system. They are often used to treat anxiety, insomnia, certain mental health conditions, and seizures. Benzos are only available on prescription and are commonly prescribed for short-term use since prolonged use often leads to tolerance and dependence.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

A Vicious Cycle

When it comes to dual diagnosis, the two conditions are often linked. In this case, individuals grappling with panic disorders, anxiety, or insomnia may be prescribed benzodiazepines to alleviate their symptoms. However, the prolonged use or misuse of benzos eventually leads to physical and psychological dependence, exacerbating the very issues they were intended to address.

As dependence progresses, any attempt to stop using the drugs can trigger withdrawal symptoms, prompting the individual to go back to using the drugs in an attempt to manage them. This creates a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break and reinforces the need for comprehensive treatment strategies.

Integrated Treatment

Due to the link between mental health issues and benzo dependency, it’s crucial to treat both conditions at the same time for effective recovery. This is known as an integrated treatment approach.

Integrated treatment for benzo dependency coupled with mental health issues involves:

Comprehensive Assessment

Before being admitted for treatment, the individual should undergo an assessment to receive an accurate diagnosis. This will help determine the severity of the mental health symptoms as well as the extent of benzo use and the interaction between the two. The results of the assessment will be used to form a personalized treatment plan focused on the individual’s recovery goals.

Medically Supervised Detoxification

Abrupt withdrawal from benzo use can be dangerous so detox under medical supervision is advised. During medically supervised detox, individuals will gradually taper off their benzo use while medical professionals monitor their progress to mitigate any severe reactions.

Behavioral Therapies

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) have been effective at addressing both substance dependency and mental health issues. These methods focus on bringing about behavioral change by replacing harmful thoughts and habits with new ones. They also equip the individual with the coping skills required to manage triggers.

Support Groups

Those with dual diagnosis would benefit from support groups where they interact with others facing similar challenges. Sharing experiences and learning from others can help reduce feelings of isolation that may trigger relapse.

Break the Cycle

Dealing with a dual diagnosis can be extremely challenging but with the right support and comprehensive treatment, it’s possible to get better.

At Impact Outpatient Program we believe that integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders offers the best chance of recovery. That’s why our intensive outpatient program is designed to offer clients judgment-free care, personalized treatment, and flexibility through virtual telemedicine sessions.  

Contact us today to learn how our treatment programs can help you break free from the cycle of co-occurring disorders.

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