Co-Occurring Mental Illness: Eating Disorders and SUDs

co-occurring mental illness

February 25 - March 3, 2019, is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week or NEDA. It is vital that people across America open up a dialogue about food, body image, eating disorders, and co-occurring mental illness. Such conditions include Anorexia Nervosa (AN), Bulimia Nervosa (BN), Binge Eating Disorder (BED), Avoidant-Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). As many as 20 million women and 10 million men will contend with one of the above disorders at some point in their lives, according to the National Eating Disorder Association.

Eating disorders affect people from all walks of life, regardless of age or gender. Moreover, a person can have an unhealthy relationship with food even if she or he does not meet all the specific criteria for one or more of these complex bio-social illnesses. Naturally, there is much stigma surrounding conditions like AN or BN. Experts refer to these cases as Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder or OSFED. Any eating disorder, like most other mental health conditions recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition), can be fatal if left untreated.

Mental health conditions involving food intake or body image are many. Disordered eating can go unnoticed for years due to societal pressure to look a certain way. What’s more, even those who appear to be at the peak of physical fitness can be suffering from an eating disorder. Many professional athletes place enormous dietary restrictions on themselves or have them imposed by coaches. In many sports, being lighter can mean a competitive edge against an opponent, i.e., cycling, gymnastics, or horse racing. Many professional athletes require assistance.

Male Athletes With Eating Disorders

While most people associate eating disorders as conditions usually affecting women, men struggle too. Millions of males, of all ages, battle with eating disorders at some point in their life and many of them are athletes. This week, Soledad O’Brien probed the dark side of athletics for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. O’Brien points out that a third of people struggling with an eating disorder are men; she goes on to highlight how athletes are at a heightened risk.

What makes you a great, elite athlete can also make you ‘great,’ if you will, at having an eating disorder,” O’Brien shares with Men’s Health in an interview. She adds, “I think what can first be read as commitment eventually becomes dedication gone horribly wrong.”

Please take a moment to watch a clip on the subject from Real Sports:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Eating Disorder and Co-Occurring Mental Illness

Some people meet the criteria for both eating disorder and co-occurring mental illness. Anxiety, substance abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder plague many people who struggle with eating disorders. Fortunately, a full recovery from an eating disorder and dual diagnosis are possible. It is vital that such individuals receive treatment for each condition simultaneously for successful recovery outcomes.

The National Eating Disorders Association shares that up to 50% of individuals with eating disorders abused alcohol or illicit drugs. The most commonly misused substances by persons with eating disorders are alcohol, laxatives, emetics, diuretics, amphetamines, heroin, and cocaine. Furthermore, some 35 percent of people with substance use disorders or SUDs also have a co-occurring eating disorder.

co-occurring disorder

Please watch a short video on the subject:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

It is critical to keep in mind, substance use disorder can follow disordered eating or the other way around. In the video, Amy Baker Dennis makes clear that substance abuse problems can affect people after they undergo eating disorder treatment. She makes clear that people with binge eating disorders (BED) are particularly vulnerable to developing substance use disorder. Up to 57 percent of men with BED also have a co-occurring substance abuse problem.

We can all have a hand to starting conversations about eating disorders and co-occurring mental illness during NEDA. Please follow this link to learn more.

Co-Occurring Mental Illness Treatment for Men

In the field of addiction medicine, we know that people will often swap one use disorder for another following some time in recovery. Those at risk of one form of mental illness are at a higher risk of developing comorbidity.

If you are a male who struggles with mental illness, we invite you to contact PACE Recovery Center for support. With an accredited team of physicians, doctorate-level clinicians and drug and alcohol counselors we offer treatment for mood disorders, personality disorders and mental health conditions including disordered eating and our mental health program for men can help you make lasting changes and go on to lead a productive life in recovery.

Mental Health in Teens and Young Adults: A New Guide

Mental Health

The Child Mind Institute is a nonprofit dedicated to assisting adolescents struggling with mental health and learning disorders. The Center for Addiction is another vital organization—working to change society's understanding of and response to the disease of addiction. In January, both the Child Mind Institute and Center for Addiction merged with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. For those who are not familiar with the Partnership, it is a non-profit organization spearheading campaigns to prevent teenage drug and alcohol abuse in the United States.

Each organization, individually, plays a crucial role in helping children and young adults living either with mental illness, addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders. Together, it is likely that the tripartite will affect even more change at this critical time in our history. Addiction, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and dual diagnosis plague millions of Americans.

Without proper evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery services the result is despair and premature death—families needlessly shattered. Sadly, the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society receive no special dispensation from diseases of the mind. An adolescent battling mental illness continues to do so in his or her adult years. On the upside, evidence-based treatments are available, and clinicians can help transform the lives of young people.

Substance Use and Mental Illness in Young People

Treating a mental health condition, on its own, is both complicated and challenging to manage. When a patient is experiencing comorbid disorders or dual diagnosis (i.e., more than one mental illness), proper diagnosis and treatment are even more demanding. It is vital that mental health professionals also have expertise in substance use conditions. Addiction medicine specialists must also have overlapping mental health expertise, according to Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., President at the Child Mind Institute and Fred Muench, Ph. D., President at the Center for Addiction.

In a commentary appearing in the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids website, Dr. Koplewicz and Muench point out that one in five young people struggle with a mental illness. Moreover, there are millions of teens and young adults engaging in alcohol and drug misuse; studies indicate a 30 percent to 65 percent overlap between the groups mentioned above.

It is vital to acknowledge the above findings because when young people misuse mind-altering substances, it is often for self-medication. Simply put, mental illness like depression can precipitate addiction; and, the same is accurate in the opposite direction. Drugs and alcohol can significantly impact the developing brains of young people, potentially resulting in comorbid disorders.

A New Guide for Clinicians and Parents

Doctors Koplewicz and Muench point out, rightly, that parents are the first to notice changes in their kids and adult children. What’s more, they play a critical role in seeking out treatment and encouraging long-term recovery. Parents with concerns about their loved ones can find an invaluable amount of information in a new guide from the Child Mind Institute and Center for Addiction | Substance Use + Mental Health in Teens and Young Adults: Your Guide to Recognizing and Addressing Co-occurring Disorders.

This guide, a collaboration of the Child Mind Institute and Center on Addiction, which merged with Partnership for Drug-Free Kids in January 2019, provides information on common mental health disorders in young people (and the medications that are often used to treat these), tips on identifying substance misuse and steps to making informed decisions about evaluation and treatment for co-occurring disorders.

Substance Use + Mental Health in Teens and Young Adults Guide Highlights:

  • 30% – 45% of adolescents and young adults with mental health disorders have a co-occurring substance use disorder, and 65% or more of youth with substance use disorders also have a mental health disorder.
  • Untreated, co-occurring disorders increase risk for self-harm.
  • Thorough evaluation, diagnosis and treatment planning of co-occurring disorders requires a professional with expertise in both mental health and addiction.
  • Symptoms of substance misuse and mental health disorders mimic each other.
  • Mental health disorders often lead to “self-medication” with substances. Certain substances are often associated with specific disorders.
  • Parents are instrumental in encouraging treatment for their child or young adult and supporting a treatment program.
  • Integrated care — combining primary care, mental health and substance use services — for co-occurring disorders offers the best long-term prognosis.

PACE Residential and Outpatient Mental Health Program for Young Men

As a pioneer in mental health and dual diagnosis treatment services, our clients work with a team of master’s- and doctorate-level clinicians, psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists. Our staff of mental health professionals can identify the specific needs of each client and chart a path toward long-term recovery.

Please contact us today to learn more about our gender-specific mental health programs for young men. Our seasoned team can help you or a loved one manage mental health conditions and heal from trauma—setting you on a course to lasting recovery.

Mental Health Program for Young Men

Mental Health Program for Young Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we are pleased to announce the creation of our residential, mental health program for young men. Utilizing our proven treatment philosophy, along with evidence-based therapies, we help men make inroads in recovery. PACE’s multi-faceted approach to addressing mental illness helps adult males set recovery objectives and plot a course toward realizing their goals.

Mental health disorders are not a simple matter. Most individuals are unwilling to talk about their symptoms, let alone feel comfortable seeking assistance. The stigma surrounding mental diseases is pervasive, even though more than 300 million people face depression, globally. Anxiety disorders affect more than 260 million people. It is worth noting that major or persistent depressive disorder is just one form of mental health illness. Other common mental diseases include post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, bipolar disorder, and dual diagnosis.

Any mental illness (AMI) can significantly disrupt the course of a person’s life. Symptoms worsen, and overall health diminishes when AMI goes without treatment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability around the world. Men contending with untreated mental disease are at severe risk of self-medicating, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. It is critical that men battling mind diseases come to understand that treatment works, and recovery is within reaching distance.

Our CARF-accredited mental health program helps emerging young men build bridges to a life of productivity, relational healing and independence.

Empowering males caught in the grips of mental illness to ignore stigma and seek help is a challenging task. Although, the effort becomes easier when such people discover that effective, recovery support services exist. Supportive environments like the PACE Mental Health Program for Young Men.

You Are Not Alone

Mental health and the ability to access evidence-based treatment is a worldwide priority, to be sure. The most recent data indicates that millions of people in the United States are especially vulnerable. WHO reports that mental illness or disorder will affect 50 percent of Americans in their lifetime. Moreover, 1 in 25 Americans grapples with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Mental health treatment availability is slowly improving across the U.S. Unfortunately, 56.4 percent of adults with a mental illness have not received treatment, according to Mental Health America. More than 24 million Americans are living with untreated mental health disorders.

The statistics above are startling, and they can also help people gain perspective. However, data can be both abstract and meaningless for the person living with AMI. When one is on the baneful end of mental disease, it can be trying to relate to others’ problems. Once in recovery, on the other hand, men find that healing is a most collective endeavor. A realization that crops up first in treatment.

PACE is a brotherhood of men sharing common goals of managing mental health conditions and healing from trauma.

Under our care, clients find themselves in an environment that isn’t constricted by the societal stigma found elsewhere. The gender-specific program at PACE offers men a forum to discuss their symptoms with other men who face similar mood disorders. Adult males work together to adopt personal programs of recovery. Aided by a compassionate support staff – clinicians, psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists – and judgment-free environs, young men can openly share their feelings of doubt, fear, guilt, shame or sadness.

PACE Mental Health Program for Young Men

PACE’s highly credentialed clinical staff can help you or a loved one navigate, manage, and recover from mental health disorder(s). The clinical practices our team of experts employs are specifically tailored to the needs of each client’s diagnosis. If you would like to acquire more information about our residential or extended-care programs, please contact us today. PACE admissions counselors are standing by at your convenience: 800-526-1851.

Addiction Recovery Asks Us to Give Back

Addiction recovery involves taking care of yourself and then turning your attention toward helping others find the courage to do the same. It is a simple formula that can produce remarkable results. Seeking assistance, breaking the cycle of self-destructive behaviors, and working a program is a second chance. No one takes the journey alone; together we have an opportunity to strive for a productive future.

In the realm of Alcoholics Anonymous, there exist a list of 12 Promises. Number three reads as follows, ’We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.’ Instead, people in recovery learn from it; our past experiences serve as a reminder of where we hope never to be again. Men and women can share their story with heads held high to inspire courage in the newcomer.

Individuals who traverse addiction treatment and dedicate themselves to a program of recovery have enormous potential. Early on, people learn that if they stay the course they will have few limitations. College degrees, dream jobs, and starting families are some prime examples. No matter which path one chooses, there is a constant: long-term recovery depends on finding some avenue of giving back. Whether it be in the Rooms, or volunteering to share at a treatment center, each person’s story is the embodiment of hope.

Upon completing treatment, persons often decide to take steps to work in the field of addiction recovery. Their experience proves invaluable in serving as behavioral technicians, counselors, or doctors. However, there are other lines of work – outside of rehab centers – that people get into to “pay it forward.”

A Different Kind of Barber Shop

Naturally, not everyone desires to work in a substance use disorder treatment center. It is possible to help people struggling with addiction beyond rehab. Some individuals, who provide services that every person needs, are using their unique forums to help others overcome the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol.

Two young people in recovery who have a passion for cutting men’s hair also believe in the power of community. Luke Noreen and Rocco Danieli own and operate Over The Top Barbershop in Wakefield, Massachusetts, NBC 10 reports. On the surface, Over The Top appears to be similar to other urban barbershops. Although, closer observation reveals that more than hair is being cut in Noreen and Danieli’s business. These men are shearing the stigma of addiction plaguing people in their area, and helping others break free.

Mr. Noreen and Danieli are in addiction recovery. They do not shy from taking the risk of hiring people with similar stories. While most barbers display family photos on their mirrors, these two men feature pictures of young overdose death victims, according to the article. They both understand the dangers of substance use and relapse. At Over The Top, the overdose reversal drug Naloxone is on hand in case of an emergency.

Unfortunately, one of the barber chairs in the shop is currently unmanned. In the seat, there is a picture of a former employee named Dean who recently died of an overdose. Noreen and Danieli supported Dean in his recovery, and now they are helping Dean’s father overcome grief.

With the epidemic it is crazy out here I got I don’t know how many. This is happening all around us," said Danieli.

Giving Back In Addiction Recovery

Mr. Danieli is sober from alcohol now for three years, and he keeps his “Big Book” on hand at the shop. He’s played witness to the devastating effects of drug addiction on more than just people in the community. His brother is also in recovery, the article reports. Sadly, his two sisters are victims of fatal overdoses.

Being a barber is about taking care of the people.” – Anthony Hamilton

Co-founder, Luke Noreen, has a similar story to tell; although, his path involved drug use. He starting using as a teenager and almost didn't make it out; but, today he has a vision thanks to working a program. He has a future and helps others realize similar prospects.

We are always looking out for one another. We know everyone by their first name. We know their families. We know what their cousin is going through. We are making phone calls trying to get their friends their family member into a detox into a rehab," said Noreen.

Down the road, the two young men hope to do even more for their community. They envision a place to host meetings; where people can talk about the epidemic, without stigma.

"I was given a second chance, and I am not going to waste it. I want to help others," Danieli said.

Addiction Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, our clinical staff can help you or a loved one take steps to lead a life that is happy, joyous and free. We specialize in the treatment of addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Please reach out to us today to learn more about our programs.

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