Co-Occurring Disorders during-rehab


Disorders that occur at the same time are referred to as co-occurring, dual diagnosis or dual disorder. For instance, a person may not only suffer from bipolar disorder but from substance abuse too.

The special terms used to describe people with dual disorder has evolved in the same way that the area of addictions and mental disorder treatment has grown and advanced.


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. People who suffer from co-occurring disorders (COD) have one or more disorders that have to do with mental disorders and one or more disorders that have to do with the use of drugs and/or alcohol. 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.

Dual disorder is used interchangeably in this article to refer to co-occurring disorders although the latter is the most recent development in the lingo as used in the medical field.


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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. Some of the other acronyms are CAMI (chemical abuse and mental illness), MISU (mentally ill substance using), MISA (mentally ill substance abusers), SAMI (substance abuse and mental illness), ICO PSD (individuals with co-occurring psychiatric and substance disorders) and MIC'D (mentally ill chemically dependent).

Some typical examples of co-occurring disorders are the combinations of cocaine addiction with major depression, occasional polydrug abuse with borderline personality disorder, panic disorder with alcohol addiction and polydrug addiction and alcoholism with schizophrenia. Some patients have more than two disorders although the article focuses more on dual disorders. The fundamentals that have to do with dual disorders normally also have a bearing on multiple disorders.

The mixture of psychiatric disorders and COD problems differ along important dimensions like chronicity, disability, severity, and degree of impairment in functioning. For example, both disorders could be of the same severity or one could be mild while the other is severe. In fact the seriousness of both disorders can alter as time passes. Degrees of impairment in functioning and disability might also differ.

Thus, there is no single mixture of dual disorders; in fact, there is huge variability among them. 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).


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. Thus, for patients with dual disorders relapse prevention must be specially designed. 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 which is rampant among patients having dual disorders and can comprise of anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders and personality disorders.