A co-occurring disorder is a condition in which a person has a co-existing mental illness and substance use disorder. It is commonly defined as the combination of substance use and other mental disorders. The other mental disorders could come in any other form such as intellectual disability, eating disorder, personality or trauma-related disorders.
Co-occurring disorder is also referred to as dual diagnosis or dual disorder. The term dual diagnosis has been more prevalent in the past. Dual diagnosis goes with the same definition – simultaneous diagnosis of both a drug abuse disorder and mental health disorder. Comorbidity is also a commonly used term to describe the co-occurring disorder.
About 4 million people struggle with a co-occurring drug or alcohol dependency and mental health disorder.
Co-occurring disorders are common. However, their cases differ in severity, and the severity of each case is likely to change over time. The challenge with dual-diagnosis is that the affected tend to experience more severe psychiatric and medical difficulties than those nursing a single disorder. They may also require a longer period of treatment to address both disorders.
Co-occurring disorders come in different combinations. It could be alcoholism and depression, anxiety disorder and opioid dependence, marijuana and bipolar disorder or meth and social anxiety disorder. For most cases of dual disorder, the symptoms and challenges connected to one can degenerate the issues of the other.