Teen Co-occurring Disorders
Discover everything you need to know about teen co-occurring disorders and treatment options in this informative article.
Understanding Teen Co-Occurring Disorders
Teen Co-occurring Disorders Statistics
- A recent study shows that 29% of male and 49% of female adolescents with substance use disorders had co-occurring mood disorders, and 9% of male and 19% of female adolescents had co-occurring anxiety disorders.1
- According to a 2019 national survey of teens twelve to seventeen years old with major depressive disorder (MDE), 31.9% used illicit drugs, 24.6% used marijuana, 4.2% used opioids, and 8.9% engaged in binge drinking.2
- In 2019, only 5,000 out of 397,000 (1.3%) teens with substance use disorder (SUD) and MDE received treatment for both disorders.3
Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse: Which One Comes First?
Because SUD and mental health disorders share many similar symptoms, it can be difficult to decipher which one came first. Mental health disorders can lead to substance abuse in the event that people commonly use substances to self-medicate and cope with their symptoms. In addition, substance use disorders can lead to mental illness due to the changes in brain development and chemical levels caused by repeated drug use.
Common Teenage Mental Health Disorders and Substances of Abuse
Common Mental Health Disorders in Teens
Unfortunately, there has been a worrying trend of mental health disorders among teenagers. Below are common types of mental health disorders experienced by teens.
Depression is characterized by persistent sadness and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, impairing daily life. There is a strong link between teenage depression and drug use. In 2020, 17% of teens aged twelve to seventeen in America had at least one major depressive episode.4
Anxiety is an ongoing feeling of intense and excessive worry and fear about everyday situations. Symptoms usually include rapid heart rate and breathing, sweating, restlessness, and chest pains. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions, affecting 31.9% of adolescents and 31.1% of adults in the U.S.5
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Flashbacks and nightmares of past traumatic experiences, anxiety, depression, and avoidance of the traumatic event are all common symptoms.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood fluctuations, alternating between manic episodes (extreme highs) and depressive episodes (extreme lows).
Teens who suffer from conduct disorder have a disregard for moral values and the people around them, trouble following rules, and difficulty behaving appropriately.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Oppositional defiant disorder causes the urge to rebel against laws and social norms.
Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders can comprise distorted body image and unhealthy eating habits, such as anxiety about certain foods, feeling guilty about eating, binge eating, and self-induced vomiting.
Commonly Abused Substances in Adolescents
A significant section of the teenage population suffers from substance abuse disorder. The most common substances that adolescents abuse are:
- Prescription medication
Signs of Teen Co-Occurring Disorders
Co-occurring disorder statistics in adolescence have spiked over the past few years. There are many different mental health illnesses and substances that can be abused, creating a long and diverse list of symptoms. While it may seem overwhelming or confusing (as not everyone shows the same signs and symptoms), some are more commonly experienced than others.
The most significant step to tackling dual disorders is spotting the signs early. Thus, it is important to keep note of the following signs and symptoms to prevent further damage. The most common mental health and substance use disorder signs include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Slurred speech
- Impaired coordination
- Increased violence
- Falling grades
- Declined interest or performance in once-enjoyed activities or sports
- Lack of motivation
- Mood swings
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in friends, social circle
- Legal issues, criminal activity
- Financial problems
Teen Co-Occurring Disorders Causes and Risk Factors
Causes and Risk Factors
Family HistoryExperts have identified trends of higher substance use disorder and mental health disorder rates among people who have family members who suffer from the same challenges. Thus, genes influence teen co-occurring disorders.
Environmental FactorsSome environments predispose teens to co-occurring disorders more than others, such as stress, violence, and the prevalence of drug use in neighborhoods.
Early ExperiencesTrauma, childhood neglect, and other negative early experiences increase the risk of co-occurring disorders in adolescents.
School LifePeer pressure from schoolmates, bullying, and other school life experiences increase the risk of substance abuse and mental illness.
Other FactorsOther factors such as breakups in teenage relationships could lead to co-occurring disorders in adolescents.
How Can Family Support a Child With Co-occurring Disorders?
- Participate in family education
- Attend individual counseling or family therapy
- Manage child’s medication
- Encourage healthy involvement and structure
- Join family support groups
- Know the signs of relapse
Treatment for Teen Co-Occurring Disorders
Integrated Treatment for Teen Co-occurring Disorders
Therapy is a powerful and popular strategy for treating co-occurring disorders. Therapy techniques include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT aims to identify and correct harmful thought patterns with more positive ways of thinking.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Initially designed to treat borderline personality disorder, DBT is a modification of CBT and incorporates strategies to cope with stress and focus on present happiness.
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
Motivational interviewing (MI) promotes self-motivation among teens with co-occurring disorders.
Group and Family Therapy
Group interactions with trained professionals and others who have similar conditions can decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness and draw support and confidence from others. In addition, family therapies help family members better understand their teens with co-occurring disorders.
HOLISTIC TREATMENT FOR TEEN CO-OCCURRING DISORDERS AT PACIFIC BEACH HEALTH
There is a growing challenge of co-occurring disorders in adolescence. As children grow, they may be exposed to life situations that draw them towards substance abuse and mental illness. Thus, it is important for family members to learn the signs and symptoms of co-occurring disorders and know when to contact treatment facilities.
If you or your loved one is experiencing the symptoms of teen co-occurring disorders, you should seek treatment immediately. Pacific Beach Health provides a complete treatment package for addiction and mental health disorders. Contact us today to learn more about our programs.