Working on Two Fronts

Dealing with mental health issues is difficult enough, but when you are also trying to maintain sobriety, it can feel like twice the work. When you have co-occurring disorders, such as depression and substance use, it might sometimes feel like you are fighting on two fronts. 

That is not a reason to give up the fight, though. As you learned in treatment, co-occurring disorders are usually related and even intertwined. This means that they often come from the same place or the same events or memories. Yes, it can feel twice as hard. Yes, it is also twice as rewarding. Like slaying the double-headed dragon, your success is just that much more powerful.

Twice as Important

Co-occurring disorders are difficult, but not impossible. Achieving and sustaining mental health becomes even more important in your life. You are twice as important. And you are worth the work.

Twice as important doesn’t mean you are being set up to fall twice as hard. It doesn’t mean that you are twice as likely to fail, either, or that your mistakes are worth double. The importance is in your approach, knowing that you have already worked twice as hard to get here, so now you are going to protect your valuable work with extra vigilance. 

Double Struggle

While it may seem like double the struggle, luckily for you, much of the treatment of co-occurring disorders are similar. Because depression or anxiety and substance use often stem from the same experiences or needs, when you treat one, you are also treating the other. Healing from depression and substance use can occur simultaneously.

Think about the skills that you learned in treatment, they really apply to both battles. The major differences are that with substance use, you have cravings and related struggles, and your battle is to avoid any substances. With depression or anxiety, you will have environmental triggers, similar to those with substance use. However, many times, the medical treatment for a mood disorder involves taking a doctor-prescribed medication. If that is the case, rest assured that most medications for mood disorders are not addictive. If you have any doubts or concerns, you can discuss it with your doctor. 

Advocating for yourself and taking control of your treatment may feel like double the struggle because you have to remember more and be careful on both fronts. Advocating on two fronts is twice as empowering, though. As you learn to navigate your life and your treatment, you will learn twice as much and be twice as valuable to help others, too.

Winning the Battle

When you are taking good care of yourself and your mental health, you become stronger and more capable and independent each day. Sometimes, each day, each minute, each craving is a battle. As you are battling a craving for your substance or dealing with a situation that is a big trigger for your prior substance use, you also have to fight off the depression. They rarely happen one at a time, since they are intertwined. 

However, this is a battle that you have won before. In treatment, you defeated your dragons, and you learned how to protect the kingdom of your mind. You did it then, you did it since then, and maybe you even did it again yesterday. Fighting either battle is hard. Fighting both at the same time shows so much courage and power. You may not even realize how amazing you are.

Our minds may condemn us if we slip up, even for the slightest mistake. That is the nature of our minds. But our minds are also where this battle is being fought and won every day. So when your mind tries to tell you the score, be sure to double-check that score. Every second of every day that you stay sober, every second that you are mentally healthy is a battle won. Now add up all of the seconds of every day since you chose mental health. That is the real score. You are fighting, and you are winning this battle.

Double the Benefits

Some people wake up in the morning and take it for granted. Every day that you wake up is a win. Other people get through a school or workday and congratulate themselves. Every work or school day that you get through without depression or anxiety or without using a substance deserves an actual award. 

Every battle that you win is worth at least double, if not more. Never forget that every craving you successfully resist, every day you are functioning and mentally healthy is a tribute to you and your general awesomeness. Every day you succeed at life is worth more than double the success of an ordinary day. Because you are more than ordinary, you are extraordinary.

Living with co-occurring disorders is not simple, but neither are you. You have fought and won the battle on both fronts, and now you continue your battle. You are winning both battles every day, and even if others don’t know how amazing you are, you do. You know where you’ve been and what it took to get here. Now you know what it takes to stay here. You are powerful. Co-occurring disorders might be your double-headed dragon, but you are absolutely slaying it.

Fight your battle on both fronts with the skills you gained at Embark Behavioral Health. For questions call 1-855-809-0409. You are worth every battle, every second, every day.

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Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health is a leading network of outpatient centers and residential programs offering premier mental health treatment for preteens, teens, and young adults. Dedicated to its big mission of reversing the trends of teen and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide by 2028, Embark offers a robust continuum of care with different levels of service and programming; has a deep legacy of over 25 years serving youths; works with families to adjust treatment in real time to improve results; treats the entire family using an evidence-supported approach; and offers the highest levels of quality care and safety standards. For more information about Embark or its treatment programs, including virtual services, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), therapeutic day treatment programs, also known as partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), residential treatment, and outdoor therapy, visit