July 15, 2023 By Leah Malone

How Co-Occurring Issues Impact Women


When women have co-occurring issues such as substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health conditions like depression, they often have more severe symptoms. Some women have multiple co-occurring issues that require simultaneous treatment and integrative care.

According to MedlinePlus, “About half of people who have a mental disorder will also have a substance use disorder at some point in their lives and vice versa.” At Emerge Recovery TX, we designed our curriculum using evidence-based treatment and trauma-informed care to support women recovering from SUD and co-occurring issues.

What Are Co-Occurring Issues?

Women diagnosed with mental health disorders alongside SUD are considered to have co-occurring conditions. Some people refer to multiple active diagnoses as dual diagnoses. More than half of the women in recovery have at least one co-occurring disorder that requires treatment during rehabilitation.

The connections between co-occurring disorders and substance misuse include the following:

  • Co-occurring conditions contribute to the development of substance misuse.
  • Substance misuse contributes to the development of mental health disorders.
  • Both conditions may develop independently.

In most cases, we have experienced that all active conditions should be treated simultaneously for the best possible outcome. People may experience more severe symptoms and a higher risk of relapse if they leave co-occurring issues untreated. 

Collaborating with Emerge clinicians to choose a treatment program that is ideal for your situation can reduce your risk of relapse and decrease symptoms of any co-occurring mental health disorders.

How Do Co-Occurring Issues Impact Treatment and Recovery?

Unfortunately, co-occurring disorders have the potential to worsen symptoms of other disorders, make it harder to focus on treatment, and increase stress. That’s why women in recovery benefit from integrative care that addresses co-occurring disorders and substance misuse. Emerge Recovery TX uses trauma-informed and integrative care to ensure women in treatment feel confident managing all diagnosed conditions as they transition back to daily living.

Some of the ways co-occurring disorders impact treatment and recovery include:

  • Increasing the risk of self-harming or risk-taking behaviors during treatment and continuing care
  • Requiring specialized treatment or extended care (when the co-occurring diagnosis is complex)
  • Increasing the risk of relapse for individuals with severe symptoms and side effects

Most treatment programs successfully address co-occurring disorders using psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, peer support, and holistic therapies.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Untreated or undiagnosed co-occurring disorders may impact one’s ability to manage SUD symptoms and side effects. Admissions assessments ensure women receive an accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment while recovering from SUD and related mental health issues. Understanding mental health and how it relates to substance misuse reduces the risk of relapse by making it easier to manage mental health overall.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “In 2019, over two-thirds of women reporting a SUD also reported a mental illness over the past year,” with the most common co-occurring issues being:

  • Eating disorders (EDs)
  • Personality disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders

Depression, generalized anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are a few of the most common dual diagnoses among women in recovery. Each woman in our care will have a treatment team to explain her diagnosis and how it might affect her long-term sobriety or recovery. Talk therapy, mindfulness-based techniques, and other therapeutic methods increase self-awareness and ensure women understand the connections between co-occurring disorders and SUD.

How Women in Recovery Manage Co-Occurring Issues

Many co-occurring conditions are managed successfully using a combination of prescription medications and psychotherapy. The clinicians at Emerge can help women determine which treatment options best support their ongoing sobriety. Treating co-occurring disorders as early as possible reduces their negative impact and increases self-confidence.

Women in recovery manage co-occurring conditions by doing the following:

  • Participating in self-help groups outside of treatment
  • Taking advantage of peer support and group therapy
  • Incorporating loved ones into the treatment process
  • Sharing their needs with loved ones

Because of this, we ensure that women in our care have access to an expert clinical team and many support resources. Our care team is there to ensure our women feel confident in meeting both their personal and recovery goals during treatment and continuing care. We have found that some co-occurring disorders require extended support, oftentimes requiring extended outpatient programming. To support our women through the entirety of their journey, we have also ensured the clinicians at Emerge Recovery TX have private practices where clients can continue to receive therapy after transitioning out of our outpatient programs.

Emerge Recovery TX Treats Co-Occurring Disorders

Women in recovery are exposed to a wide range of services and treatment options. Clients enrolled with us at Emerge Recovery have access to a continuum of care, along with individualized treatment teams to guide them through early recovery and give them the resources and tools to manage co-occurring disorders successfully.

Integrative care allows women to gain independence as they overcome challenges in recovery gradually. According to SAMHSA, “Together with early detection, integrated treatment can improve outcomes and quality of life for people with co-occurring disorders, including:

  • Reduced or discontinued substance use
  • Improvement in psychiatric symptoms and functioning
  • Increased chance for successful treatment and recovery for both disorders
  • Improved quality of life.”

Co-occurring disorders do not have to stop you from achieving and maintaining long-term sobriety. Emerge Recovery TX can give you the opportunity to join a tight-knit community of peers and clinicians to support you on your journey to freedom. With these resources, you won’t have to face any challenges alone.


Laurel & Leah

Women recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) have a higher risk of developing co-occurring mental health issues. Unfortunately, co-occurring disorders can impact the severity of symptoms. In addition, women tend to have fewer resources available to help them cope with a dual diagnosis. Early intervention and personalized trauma-informed care ensure the best outcomes for most women in recovery. You can rely on the Emerge Recovery TX clinical team to consider underlying issues and co-occurring conditions when creating your treatment plan. Your care team provides access to necessary services, thereby reducing the effects of a dual diagnosis. To learn more about our treatment programs and how we address co-occurring disorders, contact our office today by calling (737) 237-9663.

About Author

Leah Malone

Learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings can be painful and disturbing at times. When Leah was able to see her behavior patterns and decided there was enough pain to be disturbed, she became motivated to make changes and accept the work that needed to be done to heal. She needed direction and had no clue how to heal on her own. Through a connection with God, authentic connection with others, honesty, willingness, and humility, Leah is now in recovery from addiction and trauma.

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