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What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

What is a co-occurring disorder?

What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

Having a co-occurring disorder means exhibiting another co-existing mental illness and substance use at the same time. While universally used to refer to the mixture of substance use and mental disorders, the phrase can also denote other combinations of disorders, such as PTSD and depression.

When substance use and another disorder co-occur, they may differ in complexity, and each can alter over time. Contrasted to individuals who have a single disorder, those with a pattern of disorders may face more severe medical and mental health challenges and may also require longer periods of treatment. Up until 2018, the medical community used the term dual diagnoses, which has been updated to better reflect these circumstances.

Types of Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

According to the NIMH, mental health disorders that frequently co-occur with substance use  include:

  • anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar
  • Schizophrenia
  • Trauma
  • Eating disorder
  • PTSD


Addiction and Coinciding Disorders

There are many paths to co-occurring mental health disorders. Individuals with traditional mental health problems habitually use illicit drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their symptoms, which can then grow into addiction. For many, persistent substance abuse and the difficulties that follow can lead to depression or other co-occurring disorder. Both conditions can also happen without incidence to the other. These are predominantly hereditary or environmental influences.

Treatment for Addiction and Mental Health Problems

Most research points to an integrative model of treatment therapies and modalities as a recipe for a positive outcome. Integrated treatment regularly encompasses types of treatment, such as CBT, DBT, and family therapy that can help support coping and decrease destructive behaviors. Treatment can also involve medicine and a collaborative approach between therapists, doctors, and case managers that offer support handling issues related to housing, continuing care, and other stabilizing measures.

As a part of Samba’s addiction treatment programs, we diagnose and effectively treat co-occurring disorders. At the same time, our clinicians promote awareness about mental disorders and substance use. In fact, it’s one of the best defenses against relapse while treating the whole person. In this environment, we help patients to become more mindful of cues that instigate self-medication of substances and help them advance positive responses. Also, regardless of the level of care, each patient is carefully evaluated at intake and under multidisciplinary supervision throughout treatment at our Norcross center.

About Samba Recovery

Samba Recovery provides PHP, IOP, and outpatient addiction programs for the entire Atlanta Metro area. We have a special environment of clinicians and peers who will help you to create an individualized treatment plan for your goals. We accept most major health insurance. Call us today at 888.505.8279.