Co-occurring Disorders

What is a Co-occurring Disorder?

Formerly known as dual diagnosis or dual disorderco-occurring disorders describe the presence of both a mental health and a substance use disorder. For example, a person may be abusing a narcotic and also have bipolar disorder.  Patients with co-occurring disorders typically have one or more disorders relating to the use of alcohol and/or other drugs as well as one or more mental disorders. A client can be described as having co-occurring disorders when at least one disorder of each type can be established independent of the other and is not simply a cluster of symptoms resulting from another disorder.

Common examples of co-occurring disorders include the combinations of major depression with cocaine addiction, alcohol addiction with panic disorder, alcoholism and poly-drug (the use of two or more drugs together to achieve a certain effect) addiction with schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder with episodic poly-drug abuse. Thus, there is no single combination of co-occurring disorders; in fact, there is great variability among them.