20+ Years Experience

Specialist Alcohol Help

Alcoholism and Coexisting Conditions

Enquire Today For A Free No Obligation Quote

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is a chronic disease characterised by the compulsive and excessive consumption of alcohol despite its negative consequences on an individual’s physical, mental and social well-being. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), approximately 16 million people in the US struggle with alcohol use disorder.

Apart from the physical and social effects, alcoholism can also lead to coexisting conditions, which are mental health disorders that occur alongside alcohol use disorder. This article will explore the relationship between alcoholism and coexisting conditions, their signs, and treatment options.

Signs of alcoholism may vary depending on the individual, but some common indicators include:

  1. Physical signs such as slurred speech, coordination difficulties and blackouts.
  2. Behavioural signs like drinking alone, lying about the amount of alcohol consumed and neglecting responsibilities.
  3. Psychological signs including irritability, depression and mood swings.

Coexisting conditions, also known as dual diagnosis, refer to the simultaneous presence of alcohol use disorder and one or more mental health disorders. According to NIAAA, up to 40% of individuals with alcohol use disorder have coexisting conditions. The most common coexisting conditions with alcoholism include:

  1. Depression, characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness and loss of interest in activities.
  2. Anxiety disorders, which can cause excessive worry, fear and panic attacks.
  3. Bipolar disorder, a mental illness that causes extreme shifts in mood and energy levels.
  4. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.
  5. Borderline personality disorder (BPD), a mental health disorder that affects a person’s emotions, relationships and self-image.
  6. Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), a mental illness characterised by disregard for others’ rights and lack of empathy.

Coexisting conditions and alcoholism are closely related as individuals may use alcohol as a coping mechanism for their mental health issues, leading to alcohol use disorder. On the other hand, excessive alcohol consumption can worsen existing mental health conditions or trigger their development.

Treatment options for coexisting conditions and alcoholism may include:

  1. Dual diagnosis treatment, which addresses both the mental health disorder and alcohol use disorder simultaneously.
  2. Medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, to manage coexisting conditions.
  3. Therapy, including cognitive-behavioural therapy and group therapy, to address both mental health and alcohol use.

Family and friends can also play a vital role in supporting a loved one with coexisting conditions and alcoholism. Encouraging them to seek help, participating in their treatment, and providing emotional support can make a significant difference in their recovery journey.

In conclusion, coexisting conditions and alcoholism often go hand in hand, and it’s essential to seek professional help for proper diagnosis and treatment. With the right treatment and support, recovery from coexisting conditions and alcoholism is possible.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is a chronic disease characterised by a dependence on alcohol, an inability to control drinking, and a negative emotional state when not drinking. It can lead to various health issues and social problems.

Alcoholism has been a prevalent issue throughout human history, with evidence of alcohol consumption dating back to ancient civilisations such as the Sumerians and Egyptians.

What Are the Signs of Alcoholism?

Identifying the signs of alcoholism can be crucial in seeking help and managing this complex disorder. In this section, we will discuss the various signs that may indicate a person is struggling with alcoholism. These signs can be categorized into physical, behavioural, and psychological indicators, each providing valuable insight into a person’s relationship with alcohol. By understanding these signs, we can better understand the impact of alcoholism on a person’s life and the importance of early detection and intervention.

1. Physical Signs

Changes in sleep patterns

Sudden weight loss or gain

Unexplained injuries or accidents

Impaired coordination and motor skills

Chronic health issues like liver disease

2. Behavioural Signs

Increased secrecy about drinking habits

Defensiveness when questioned about alcohol consumption

Loss of interest in hobbies or activities once enjoyed

Fact: Behavioral signs of alcoholism can often be subtle and easily overlooked.

3. Psychological Signs

Emotional instability: Fluctuating moods, irritability, or outbursts.

Denial: Refusal to acknowledge the severity of alcohol use or its consequences.

Anxiety: Persistent feelings of worry, tension, or uneasiness.

Depression: Prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or disinterest.

What Are Coexisting Conditions?

Coexisting conditions refer to the presence of one or more additional health issues alongside alcoholism. These can include mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, and physical ailments like liver disease or hypertension.

Fact: Coexisting conditions, also known as comorbidities, are present in about 80% of individuals seeking treatment for alcohol use disorder.

How Common Are Coexisting Conditions with Alcoholism?

Many individuals with alcoholism experience coexisting conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Coexisting conditions are common among those with alcoholism, often exacerbating the challenges of both conditions. It’s crucial to address these coexisting conditions alongside alcoholism to achieve comprehensive treatment and recovery.

What Are the Most Common Coexisting Conditions with Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a complex and multi-faceted disease that often coexists with other mental health conditions. In this section, we will explore the most commonly coexisting conditions with alcoholism. These include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. By understanding these coexisting conditions, we can gain insight into the challenges faced by those struggling with alcoholism and the importance of addressing these conditions in treatment.

1. Depression

Seek Professional Help: Consult a mental health professional to discuss symptoms and receive an accurate diagnosis for depression.

Explore Treatment Options: Consider therapy, medications, or a combination of both to manage depression effectively.

Build a Support System: Surround yourself with a strong support network of family and friends to aid in coping with depression.

Pro-tip: Engage in regular physical activity and maintain a balanced diet to complement professional treatment for depression.

2. Anxiety Disorders

Recognise symptoms: Understand common signs such as excessive worry, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating.

Seek professional help: Consult a doctor or mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment options.

Explore therapy: Consider cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or exposure therapy as effective treatment methods.

Pro-tip: Encourage regular exercise and a balanced diet to complement anxiety disorder treatment.

3. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Individuals with bipolar disorder can experience extreme emotional states that occur in distinct periods called mood episodes. These mood episodes are categorised as:

4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Seek Professional Help: Consult a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and to discuss treatment options for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Therapy: Consider therapies such as cognitive processing therapy (CPT) or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to address trauma.

Medication: Discuss with a psychiatrist the potential benefits of medication for managing symptoms.

Support Networks: Engage in support groups or connect with individuals who have experienced similar trauma for emotional support.

5. Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) involves a pattern of unstable relationships, self-image, and emotions.

Seek professional diagnosis and evaluation for accurate identification of symptoms.

Therapeutic intervention, like dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), can help manage symptoms effectively.

Medication, when combined with therapy, can alleviate specific BPD symptoms.

Support groups and education can assist individuals and their loved ones in coping with BPD-related challenges.

6. Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) is characterised by a persistent pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others. Individuals with ASPD often display deceitfulness, impulsivity, and a lack of remorse. They may disregard social norms and have difficulty maintaining relationships. This personality disorder is commonly associated with alcoholism, exacerbating the challenges of treatment.

Pro-tip: Encouraging professional intervention and support groups can significantly enhance the management of antisocial personality disorder in individuals dealing with alcoholism.

How Are Coexisting Conditions and Alcoholism Related?

Increased Risk: Coexisting conditions like anxiety or depression can lead to self-medication through alcohol, escalating the risk of alcoholism.

Impact on Treatment: Addressing both alcoholism and coexisting conditions concurrently is crucial for successful treatment outcomes.

Underlying Causes: Coexisting conditions may stem from similar underlying factors as alcoholism, such as genetic predisposition or environmental stressors.

What Are the Treatment Options for Coexisting Conditions and Alcoholism?

Treating alcoholism can be a complex process, especially when there are coexisting conditions present. In this section, we will discuss the various treatment options available for individuals struggling with both alcoholism and other mental or physical health conditions. These options include dual diagnosis treatment, medications, and therapy. Each approach offers unique benefits and will be explored in further detail, providing insight into how they can effectively address coexisting conditions and alcoholism.

1. Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Evaluation: The process begins with a comprehensive assessment of the individual’s mental health and substance abuse history.

Integrated Treatment: Simultaneous, integrated therapy for both conditions is provided, often involving a mix of medication and psychotherapy.

Supportive Services: Social support, vocational rehabilitation, and housing assistance are often integral parts of dual diagnosis treatment.

My friend struggled with addiction and depression. After seeking help, she received dual diagnosis treatment, addressing both issues concurrently. The integrated approach made a significant difference, and she’s now leading a healthier, fulfilling life.

2. Medications

Consult a healthcare professional for a thorough assessment and prescription. Follow the prescribed medication dosage and schedule strictly. Be aware of potential side effects and interactions with other medications. Inform the healthcare provider about any pre-existing medical conditions or ongoing treatments.

3. Therapy

Evaluate the individual’s specific coexisting conditions and alcoholism severity.

Develop a comprehensive treatment plan addressing both alcoholism and coexisting conditions simultaneously.

Consider integrated therapy sessions focusing on dual diagnosis treatment, combining cognitive-behavioural techniques with medication management.

Provide ongoing support and monitoring to ensure treatment progress and prevent relapse.

How Can Family and Friends Help Someone with Coexisting Conditions and Alcoholism?

Offer emotional support and understanding without judgement.

Encourage seeking professional help for both conditions through therapy and support groups.

Help in creating a safe and supportive environment at home.

Assist in managing medications and treatment plans.

Participate in family therapy to address issues collectively.

A close friend assisted a family member in seeking treatment for alcoholism and depression, emphasising empathy and involvement in therapy sessions, leading to positive progress.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is AUD and how does it impact individuals?

AUD, or alcohol use disorder, is a condition characterized by impaired control over alcohol use, leading to physical dependence, tolerance, and negative consequences. It affects an estimated 95 million people globally and is responsible for 10% of the burden of disease related to substance use and mental disorders.

What are the most common comorbidities with AUD?

The most common comorbid disorders with AUD are those involving substance use, violent/aggressive behaviour, and externalising disorders. These conditions can exacerbate the negative consequences of AUD and complicate treatment.

What are the causal pathways between AUD and other psychiatric disorders?

The causal pathways between AUD and other psychiatric disorders are complex and may include direct causal associations, shared genetic and environmental factors, and shared psychopathological characteristics. Untangling these relationships is an important area of research.

What is the prevalence of comorbidity between AUD and other psychiatric disorders?

The prevalence of mood, anxiety, substance, and thought disorders is higher in individuals with AUD compared to the general population. However, the strength of the correlation between AUD and other disorders varies across different types of disorders.

How is AUD treated alongside other psychiatric disorders?

Treatment for AUD and coexisting conditions often involves a combination of psychosocial treatments, such as therapy and support groups, and potentially medication. It is important for treatment to address both the AUD and the other psychiatric disorder in order to effectively manage both.

Where can individuals seek help for AUD and other psychiatric disorders?

Seeking help for AUD and other psychiatric disorders can begin with a visit to a GP or local drug service. Other resources include national helplines, such as Frank and the NHS drugs helpline, and websites like ADFAM. Treatment options may also be available through charities, private organisations, and specialised substance abuse treatment centres.

Get In Touch With Our Team

We Aim To Reply To All Enquiries With-in 24-Hours