Co-Occurring Disorders Paper

You will prepare and submit a term paper on Co-Occurring Disorders Paper. Your paper should be a minimum of 750 words in length. This will include a basic overview of the types of disorder that co-occur with chemical abuse syndromes in adolescents, the epidemiology and total effect that these have on the individuals involved, and how clinical diagnosis with one or more of these syndromes according to the DSM-IV-TR can have an effect on these individuals and their lives. Adolescence is one of the most important parts of an individual’s development, and is consequently the time when mental illnesses most commonly tend to emerge (Hawkins, 2009). Adolescents also suffer from the fact that many take their issues as a normal part of growing up, which can mean that substance abuse disorders and their comorbid symptoms can be ignored (Merikangas et al, 2010). Despite this, a growing body of research suggests that 6.2% of adolescents and children have a substance abuse disorder (Rainecke, 1996), and of these 76% will have a comorbid psychological disorder (Hawkins, 2009). Reinecke (1996) also showed that the most common of these comorbid disorders in adolescents are depression, conduct disorders and borderline personality disorder (BPD). The fact that there are so many individuals with substance abuse problems have a comorbid condition like depression or BPD can be a challenge for those working in the discipline. The main issue is that treating a comorbid disorder can be complex because of the very nature of the situation (Hawkins, 2009). The substance abuse disorder needs to be treated and the individual is required to break their addiction to alcohol, marijuana or hard drugs. This must occur simultaneously or in close succession to care for their comorbid disorder (Merikangas et al, 2010). Failure to do so can put the adolescent at risk of further withdrawal, suicide, incarceration or descending into the further use of heavy drugs (Hawkins, 2009). Focusing on BPD, there are a wide range of phenotypes for this disorder which further complicates the problem of treatment, although psychotherapy and psychopharmaceutical treatment are both recognized (Oldham, 2006). BPD is a complex disorder which has a wide range of symptoms, not necessarily present in every individual diagnosed. These can range from self-mutilation to identity disturbance to intense bursts of anger not related to the situation. One of the most common symptoms for BPD is impulsive behavior (Shea, 2006), which evidently puts the individual at risk for substance and alcohol abuse which could then turn into a fully-fledged disorder in itself. Esposito-Smythers, Spirito, Kahler, Hunt & Monti (2011) covered the treatment of substance abuse and co-morbid disorders in some detail. This research showed that diagnosis with one or more disorder related to substance abuse can have varying effects on the adolescent. Perhaps most important is that adolescents, when diagnosed according to the criteria of the DSM-IV-TR, can feel stigma attached to their diagnosis. This can make them less likely to respond to and cooperate with treatment for any disorder. Additionally, some may feel as though it is a life sentence and there is no point attending therapy sessions which are recommended (Oldham, 2006). Despite this, many adolescents can and do respond to various treatments for substance abuse and BPD (Esposito-Smythers et al, 2011).

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