The Importance of Identifying a Co-occurring Disorder in Treatment


A person’s addiction can affect almost every aspect of their life. Relationships, finances, careers, and more can be thrown to the wind when active use and drinking are in full swing. 

There are times when issues with substance abuse can grow so strong that they exacerbate other medical and mental health issues.

People addicted to drugs are twice as likely to suffer from mood or anxiety disorders as those who are not. Despite being very different diagnoses, they can both apply to the same individual.

The terms medical professionals use to describe these disorders assist in both defining a disorder and explaining how it might be treated. Dual Diagnosis — or  Co-Occurring Disorders — are the terms used when two or more conditions are present in the same person simultaneously. Continue reading to learn more about Dual Diagnosis and Co-Occurring Disorders. 

What Is Dual Diagnosis? 

The term can refer to a situation where more than one medical or mental health condition or issue co-occurs in the same individual. Oftentimes, any number of ailments may affect the individual at the same time.

It is important to remember that addiction itself is considered a mental health disorder. Therefore, a Dual Diagnosis can include addiction as well as one or more Co-Occurring Disorders. 

For example, if an individual suffers from diabetes and heart disease, that could be diagnosed as a Dual Diagnosis. Dual diagnoses are also possible for cancer patients with migraines. 

When discussing Co-Occurring Disorders, comorbidity is also a term you might hear. Drug dependency might result from the individual drinking and using drugs to provide relief from the mental health issues they are experiencing. 

Medical professionals refer to this as a coping mechanism, however as one will learn through treatment, there are other, healthier means to tackle mental and emotional issues.  

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, these are the signs to look out for when one is dealing with a Co-Occurring Disorder:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Using or abusing substances under dangerous conditions
  • Loss of the ability to control or curb drug use
  • Tolerance to the impact of drugs, requiring more and more to achieve an effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms when no substances are taken, substances are discontinued.
  • A need to use to handle everyday life
  • Risky behaviors caused by substance abuse

Some people with mental health issues turn to drugs and abuse them in an effort to self-medicate and try to control these symptoms. 

When individuals are using substances, they feel capable of handling the difficulties mental health issues can bring. Drug abuse can lead to an exacerbation of mental health issues and potentially lead to brain damage as well.

What Is Comorbidity?

An individual with mental illness and addiction is said to have comorbidity. 

It also refers to any situation with two disorders or diseases co-occurring in the same individual. Drug addiction and mental illness are two examples of this term, but it could also describe someone with Parkinson’s disease and/or anxiety.

Integrated Mental Health and Addiction Treatment at No Matter What Recovery

Medical professionals recommend that persons suffering from Dual Diagnosis and Co-Occurring Disorders receive integrated treatment from the same team simultaneously. 

Several facilities may not be able to address multiple issues simultaneously.  Fortunately, at No Matter What Recovery, we are experts at treating Dual Diagnosis and Co-Occurring Disorders

Whether you or a loved one are dealing with addiction or a mental health issue, we can help.  

In addition to providing comprehensive assessments of mental health issues, No Matter What Recovery creates a personalized treatment plan.  Treatment plans include all mental health issues that can be treated simultaneously with substance use disorders.

Our treatment program includes:

Having both substance abuse and mental health conditions treated at the same time reduces the risk of relapse.

If the initial addiction treatment didn’t address the mental health disorder and the addiction, people could return to substance abuse as a coping mechanism.

What Is Treatment Like?

There are different treatment options for substance abuse and a co-occurring disorder, including therapy and prescription medication that is monitored regularly by a team of medical professionals. 

At No Matter What Recovery, we pride ourselves on healing the person as a whole – mind, body, and spirit  This holistic approach to a person’s recovery offers many benefits. 

In addition to providing you tools for relapse prevention, conflict resolution, and healthy communication skills, we teach you to be mindful of: 

  • Your overall health and emotional wellbeing 
  • Addressing/Healing past trauma and emotional wounds
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness
  • To employ gratitude and self-acceptance in your life 

Using holistic therapies brings your wellness back into focus!

Our caring and compassionate staff of mental and behavioral health professionals work together to develop a comprehensive treatment program.  

No Matter What Recovery Can Help

The team at No Matter What Recovery wants to instill the concept of recovering with a community —  you are not alone on this journey. We are here to help you get your life back on solid footing, as well as help you learn how to live everyday life without a dependence on drugs or alcohol.  

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, No Matter What Recovery has the best substance abuse treatment plan for you.  Contact us today to learn more.