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Co-Occurring Disorders


Co-Occurring Disorders Formerly was known as the dual disorder or dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorders explain the existence of two or more disorders at the same time. An example is when someone suffers from drug abuse and bipolar disorder.

The terminology that is utilized to describe patients with both substance abuse and psychological disorders has developed to be more accurate, just like the field of treatment for both of them.


The term co-occurring actually takes the place of the terms dual disorder and dual diagnosis. These latter terms, though used commonly to point to the mixture of substance abuse and mental disorders, are confusing in that they also point to other mixtures of disorders (like mental retardation and mental disorders).

Furthermore, the terms relate that there are only two disorders occurring at the same time, when truly there may be more. Patients who have coexisting conditions can have one or more conditions associated with alcohol or drug dependency and also one or more mental condition. A diagnosis of co-occurring disorders is caused when at least one disorder of each type can be managed independent of the other and is not the simple bunch of symptoms resulting from the on 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. The most ideal term used is mentally ill chemically affected individuals because the term affected more aptly describes their condition and is not derogatory. 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.

Common examples of co-occurring disorders include the combinations of alcohol addiction with panic disorder, major depression with cocaine addiction, borderline personality disorder with episodic polydrug abuse, and alcoholism and polydrug addiction with schizophrenia. Some patients have more than two disorders even if the focus of this is on dual disorders. The set of ideas which is relevant to dual disorders is as well used for 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. How severe the disorders are also varies with time and is not constant. Degrees of impairment in functioning and disability might also differ.

Therefore, it is important to note that there is no single combination of co-occurring disorders; they actually vary depending on the mentioned factors. Specific treatment environments are, however, set up for patients that have alike combinations of dual disorders.


Further impairment to adults who face severe mental disorders as a result of substance abuse or dependence such as alcohol or other drugs is common.


Patients with dual disorders go through much more emotional, social and chronic medical problems in comparison to patients who only have a mental health disorder or a co-occurring disorder caused by substance abuse or dependence only. They are susceptible, since they have two disorders, to both further impairment of mental disorder and COD relapse. What's more, an addiction relapse frequently results in psychiatric decompensation and when mental problems worsen it frequently results in addiction relapse. That means that patients with co-occurring disorders require a specific relapse prevention plan. Patients who battle with dual disorders frequently need longer treatment, experience more emergencies and advance more slowly in treatment than patients who battle just a single disorder.

Psychiatric disorders which is rampant among patients having dual disorders and can comprise of anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders and personality disorders.