The term “comorbid disease” refers in this context to a psychiatric or medical disorder that exists alongside our patients’ addiction, and which may play an integral role in this process. Common psychiatric disorders we see that must be effectively addressed for the patient to be successful in their recovery journey include depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and many more.
It is imperative that comorbid psychiatric disorders are identified and treated if the patient is to have the optimal chance for recovery from their addiction. Similarly, there are many medical, or physiologic, processes that may exist and must also be diagnosed and managed to afford our patients the best chance of successful recovery. Some of these disorders may be thyroid disease, various vitamin or mineral deficiencies, anemia, electrolyte disturbances, among many more.
Additionally, it is important to recognize and manage medical issues and diseases that have resulted from the addicted patient’s behavior and unhealthy lifestyles. These can include hypertension, liver disease, sexually transmitted infections, hepatitis B and C, HIV, etc. In summary, it is imperative that we take an “integrated approach” to our patients suffering with addiction. In this way we can truly address mind, body, and spirit to help our patients heal and begin to live healthy, fulfilling lives!