Defining Co-Occurring Disorders
A co-occurring disorder is a mental health and substance use disorder diagnosis that exists simultaneously; this is also referred to as a dual diagnosis. A substance use disorder is a mental disorder that impacts an individual’s behavior and the brain, resulting in an inability to control their use of drugs (legal and illegal), alcohol, and medication. Symptoms can range in severity from mild or severe, and they can be effectively treated.
Mental disorders, or mental illnesses, affect a person’s thinking, mood, behavior, and feelings. As substance use disorders, the impact of mental illness can be mild, moderate, or severe, and symptoms can be treated effectively by licensed mental professionals.
Prevalence of Addiction and Mental Disorders
Millions of people across the country experience both addiction and mental illness. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), nearly 9.2 million people have a co-occurring disorder. You can experience a substance use disorder without having a diagnosable mental illness, just as you can be diagnosed with a mental illness and never develop an addiction. However, if you are diagnosed with a substance use disorder, there is a strong possibility that you may have a mental disorder, and the reverse is true. If you are diagnosed with one, there is a strong possibility that you could develop a substance use problem. Researchers have found that half of the people who develop a substance use disorder will also develop a mental illness and vice-versa. Therefore, a patient that is in need of alcohol or drug addiction rehab treatment may also need to undergo inpatient mental health treatment.