A co-occurring disorder, formerly known as a dual diagnosis, is when a patient has two different health issues occurring at the same time.

It is often thought to be a mental illness and substance abuse disorder, but it can also refer to other combinations of conditions. One could experience a mental health illness and personality disorder to have a co-occurring disorder.


Signs of a co-occurring disorder

Signs or symptoms of a co-occurring disorder are different depending on what two illnesses are co-occurring. Someone struggling with substance abuse and schizophrenia will be different from someone who suffers from anxiety disorder and alcohol abuse disorder.


Most people with the co-occurring disorder will have the following in common:


    • Daily life, such as work or school, is a daily struggle, and typically, they fail to get the job done.
    • They shut down communications with others.
    • They usually have legal issues
    • Almost certainly have financial problems.
    • They lack control over their emotions.

Beyond those common symptoms, all other symptoms change depending on the two illnesses and if they seek professional treatment that includes medication.


Co-occurring disorder common or uncommon

A co-occurring disorder is more common than you might think. According to a study by the NIDA, roughly 8 million Americans suffer some form of a co-occurring disease (National Institute of Drug Abuse).

The problem is a co-occurring disorder is rarely discussed. Like all mental illnesses, it seems to have a negative connotation. In order to change that negativity, we need to discuss it more out in the open. It is an illness, not a choice. The more we educate the public about the illness, the more those that are struggling with the co-occurring disorder will feel that it is ok to seek treatment.

If you have a loved one with substance abuse and a mental health illness, 449 Recovery can help them. We treat co-occurring disorders. Speak to your loved one about seeking help. Contact 449 Recovery or call (855) 435-7449 to discuss the program and get the answers you need to help your loved one make an informed decision.