Dual Diagnosis | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental IllnessDual diagnosis also called co-occurring disorders , COD , or dual pathology   is the condition of suffering from a mental illness and a comorbid substance abuse problem. There is considerable debate surrounding the appropriateness of using a single category for a heterogeneous group of individuals with complex needs and a varied range of problems. The concept can be used broadly, for example depression and alcoholism, or it can be restricted to specify severe mental illness e. Those with co-occurring disorders face complex challenges. They have increased rates of relapse, hospitalization, homelessness , and HIV and hepatitis C infection compared to those with either mental or substance use disorders alone. The identification of substance-induced versus independent psychiatric symptoms or disorders has important treatment implications and often constitutes a challenge in daily clinical practice.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues
Many individuals who develop substance use disorders SUD are also diagnosed with mental disorders, and vice versa. Multiple national population surveys have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa. Data show high rates of comorbid substance use disorders and anxiety disorders—which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Serious mental illness among people ages 18 and older is defined at the federal level as having, at any time during the past year, a diagnosable mental, behavior, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, and other mental disorders that cause serious impairment. Data from a large nationally representative sample suggested that people with mental, personality, and substance use disorders were at increased risk for nonmedical use of prescription opioids. Comorbid disorders can also be seen among youth.
Dual diagnosis also referred to as co-occurring disorders is a term for when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously. Either disorder—substance use or mental illness—can develop first. People experiencing a mental health condition may turn to alcohol or other drugs as a form of self-medication to improve the mental health symptoms they experience. However, research shows that alcohol and other drugs worsen the symptoms of mental illnesses. The professional fields of mental health and substance use recovery have different cultures, so finding integrated care can challenging.
People who have substance use disorders as well as mental health disorders are diagnosed as having co-occurring disorders, or dual disorders. This is also sometimes called a dual diagnosis. Alcohol or drug abuse is diagnosed when substance use interferes with functioning at work, at school, and in social relationships. It is also diagnosed when substance use creates or worsens a medical condition or when substance use occurs in dangerous situations. Alcohol or drug dependence is a more severe condition than alcohol or drug abuse. Some of the most common mental health disorders found in chemically dependent people include mood- and anxiety disorders.
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Co-Occurring Disorders -- Introductory Video
When you have both a substance abuse problem and a mental health issue such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, it is called a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. To make the situation more complicated, the co-occurring disorders also affect each other. When a mental health problem goes untreated, the substance abuse problem usually gets worse. And when alcohol or drug abuse increases, mental health problems usually increase too. Co-occurring substance abuse problems and mental health issues are more common than many people realize. According to reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association :. There are things you can do to conquer your demons, repair your relationships, and get on the road to recovery.