Co-Occurring Disorders during-rehab


Disorders that occur at the same time are referred to as co-occurring, dual diagnosis or dual disorder. An example is when someone suffers from drug abuse and bipolar disorder.

Just as the field of treatment for substance abuse and mental disorders has developed to become more accurate, so too has the terminology used to narrate people with both substance use and mental disorders.


The term co-occurring actually takes the place of the terms dual disorder and dual diagnosis. Even though these replaced terms have usually been used when discussing a mix of mental disorders and substance abuse, they are also referring to other combinations of disorders (like mental disorders and mental retardation), which can sometimes cause confusion.

Also, there can be more than just two disorders present, while these terms are implying otherwise. Patients who have coexisting conditions can have one or more conditions associated with alcohol or drug dependency and also one or more mental condition. When a minimum of one disorder of both types can be confirmed which isn't dependent on the other, we can talk about diagnosing co-occurring disorders and it isn't just a bunch of symptoms that are caused by just one disorder.

Even though the term co-occurring disorder is the most up to date term that is used by professionals, the term dual disorders will be used interchangeably for the objectives of this article.


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Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers, MICA, is used to refer to people who have a co-occurring disorder and a very serious mental disorder such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. A better word that is more preferred in terms of its connotation is Mentally Ill Chemically Affected. Other acronyms that are used to refer to people with COD are CAMI, Chemical Abuse and Mental Illness; MIC'D, Mentally Ill Chemically Dependent; MISA, Mentally Ill Substance Abusers; MISU, Mentally Ill Substance Using; Sami, Substance Abuse and Mental Illness and ICO PSD, Individuals with co-occurring psychiatric and substance disorders.

Some common types of co-existing conditions consist of the combinations of major depression types associated with cocaine dependency, alcohol dependency along with panic disorder, extreme alcoholism along with polydrug abuse with schizophrenia and as well as borderline personality condition with sporadic polydrug misuse. Even if the emphasis for this dwells on dual disorders, there are a number of patients who have more than two conditions. The fundamentals that have to do with dual disorders normally also have a bearing on multiple disorders.

The severity, degree of impairment in functioning, chronicity and disability are some of the factors that differ in the occurrence of combinations of psychiatric disorders alongside substance abuse problems. For instance, each of the two disorders may be serious or mild, or one may be more serious than the other. However, with time, the extremity of both disorders might change. Other factors that may also vary include the level or degree of disability or impairment in day to day functions.

Therefore, it is important to note that there is no single combination of co-occurring disorders; they actually vary depending on the mentioned factors. Though, patients with combinations of dual disorders that are alike are regularly found in specific treatment environments.


More than half of all adults with serious mental illness are further caused by substance use disorders (abuse or addiction related to alcohol or other drugs).


The differences between patients with a mental health disorder or only a co-occurring disorder problem and patients with dual disorders are that the latter frequently suffer more serious and long-lasting medical, emotional and social challenges. The severity of their condition makes them more prone to COD relapses as well as to worsening of their mental health disorders. Additionally, dependency relapse most of the time causes psychiatric functional deterioration and worsening of psychiatric difficulties which further results in dependency relapse. This is why relapse prevention should be particularly made for patients having dual disorders. Users with dual disorders commonly need longer rehab, have a greater number of crises and advance more slowly in treatment compared to patients that only have a single disorder.

Psychiatric disorders most prevalent among dually diagnosed patients include personality disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, and anxiety disorders.