What is a co-occurring disorder? While you may have heard this term, what does it really mean?
A co-occurring disorder simply means that two illnesses are at work at the same time. With this disorder, one illness is a substance abuse disorder and the other is a mental health disorder. While one usually surfaces first, eventually they exist simultaneously, often agitating each other and eventually meshing into a co-occurring disorder. This disorder is also known as a dual diagnosis.
In many cases, people want to know where their co-occurring disorder began, and with which, substance abuse or mental health. This can be as difficult as trying to figure out which came first, the chicken or the egg! In the end, which came first really doesn’t matter, as treatment and recovery are the same regardless. Co-occurring disorders feed off of one another and therefore are very intertwined. This can make it sometimes impossible to know which came first.
There are a handful of very common co-occurring disorders. These include alcohol addiction and depression, Schizophrenia and substance use disorder, Anxiety disorder and drug addiction, intellectual disability or learning disability, and mental illness.