Dual diagnosis is a term that was first identified in the 1980s and used to refer to individuals with coexisting severe mental illness and substance abuse disorders. The term dual diagnosis can also be used when referring to an individual diagnosed with any combination of physical conditions occurring simultaneously in the same person (e.g., high blood pressure and heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, etc.). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) assert that nearly half of the people “who have a mental [health] disorder will also have a substance use disorder at some point in their lives and vice versa.” Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, brain disorder. The American Psychiatric Association defines SUD as a “complex condition in which there is the uncontrolled use of a substance despite harmful consequence.” To be diagnosed with a dual diagnosis, each condition must exist independently, and while the ailments discovered could be attributed to substance abuse, they must be two (or more) separate diagnoses.
Co-occurring disorders (COD) is a more recent term used by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) that is very similar to and often used synonymously with dual diagnosis. COD is defined as “co-occurring substance-related and mental disorders, [where] patients with co-occurring disorders have one or more substance-related disorders as well as one or more mental disorders.” However, a co-occurring disorder is a term that is usually used in reference to a mental health disorder that developed because of a substance use disorder. It also can be used to refer to a mental illness that contributes to the development of an addiction.
The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found approximately 8.1 percent of individuals in the United States are living with mental illness and substance use disorder. This amounts to more than 8.5 million Americans who were found to have both a substance use disorder and mental illness. Regardless of the difference in the cause, both terms (dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders) refer to an individual who has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and another co-occurring mental health illness. When an individual presents with one or more mental health disorders and addiction, they become inexorably linked and must be treated together.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long-lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment-related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.