Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

Persons who have substance use disorders as well as mental health disorders are diagnosed as having co-occurring disorders, or dual disorders. This is also called a dual diagnosis.

Substance Use Disorder

A substance use disorder includes:

  • alcohol or drug abuse (use interferes with functioning during your day to day activities)
  • alcohol or drug dependence (use causes failure to abstain from or control their use of substances – heightened tolerance and withdrawal can occur)

Mental Health Disorders

Some of the most common mental health disorders found in chemically dependent people include mood and anxiety disorders. An even higher percentage of people with severe mental illness also have co-occurring substance use disorders.

Called severe because of the severity and length of episodes of illness, these mental health disorders include schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. (These latter two disorders with their symptoms of hallucinations or delusions are also sometimes called thought disorders.)

Two Entwined Problems

Co-occurring disorders can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms of substance abuse or addiction can mask symptoms of mental illness, and symptoms of mental illness can be confused with symptoms of addiction. People with mental health disorders sometimes do not address their substance use because they don’t believe it is relevant to their problems.

Integrated Treatment

Although in the past, mental health disorders and addiction problems were often treated separately, we now know that co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders impact one another and must be treated together. Treating just one disorder will not cause the other to automatically improve. And separate, parallel care for the disorders does not result in one, effective treatment plan. To be effective, both disorders must be treated at the same time, in the same place, by the same treatment team.

Here at Avante Recovery Center, we employ a broad amount of therapy modalities. For further information regarding how our clinical team can help with you or a loved one’s substance use disorder, Contact Avante Recovery Center today at (801) 341-0009.

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