Co-Occurring Disorders during-rehab


Co-occurring disorders (previously called dual disorder or dual diagnosis) describe the existence of two or more than two disorders at the very same point in time. Someone might have a problem with substance abuse along with bipolar disorder, for instance.

Just like the area of treatment for drug use and psychological disorders has developed to become more exact, the terminology that is employed to describe people who suffer both from psychological disorders and drug use has also become more precise.


The term co-occurring actually takes the place of the terms dual disorder and dual diagnosis. The terms being replaced may be misleading as they also refer to mental disorders and mental retardation occurring together in addition to their popular reference to a combination of substance abuse and mental disorders.

Furthermore, the terms relate that there are only two disorders occurring at the same time, when truly there may be more. People who have co-occurring disorders also referred to as COD, often have at least one mental disorder and at least one disorder springing from alcohol or substance abuse as well. 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.

In this article, the term dual disorders will also be used, even though the term co-occurring disorders is currently utilized among professionals.


Ready to Get Help?

CALL US NOW ON 0800 246 1509


For people that suffer from COD, another term is commonly used and it is MICA, which means Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers in cases where patients suffer from an extreme and constant mental disorder like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The definition of Mentally Ill Chemically Affected people is liked better as "affected" describes their state better and it isn't derogatory. The other acronyms used are as follows MIC'D (mentally ill chemically dependent), MISA (mentally ill substance abusers), SAMI (substance abuse and mental illness), MISU (mentally ill substance using), ICON PSD (individuals with co-occurring psychiatric and substance disorders) and CAMI (chemical abuse and mental illness).

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 although the article focuses more on dual disorders. The concept that applies to dual disorders normally applies also to multiple disorders.

Combinations of mental disorders and co-occurring problems differ across crucial aspects like seriousness, level of impairment in functioning, duration and disability. For instance, in the event if having two disorders, one may be either serious or mild or that one may be more serious than the other. In fact the seriousness of both disorders can alter as time passes. Degrees of impairment in functioning and disability might also differ.

Therefore, no single combination of dual disorders exists and there's indeed significant lack of consistency amongst these disorders. Specific treatment environments are, however, set up for patients that have alike combinations of dual disorders.


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).


Patients that have co-occurring disorders commonly feel stronger and chronic medical, emotional and social issues compared to those that only have a mental disorder or COD without the other. The severity of their condition makes them more prone to COD relapses as well as to worsening of their mental health disorders. 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. Compared with patients who have a single disorder, patients with dual disorders often have more crises, require longer treatment, and grow more gradually in treatment.

Mental disorders that are most common amongst dually diagnosed people are personality disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders and mood disorders.