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 health disorders, or mental illness, 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 health professionals.
Prevalence of Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders
Millions of people across the country experience both addiction and mental illness. 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 health disorder, and the reverse is true. If you are diagnosed with a mental health disorder, 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.
Common Types of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
Mental health disorders that commonly occur alongside substance use disorders include:
Common substance use disorders that co-occur with mental illness include: