Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs
What is Co-occurring Disorders?
According to Psychology Today (2014) "the field of treatment for substance use and mental disorders has evolved to become more precise, so too has the terminology used to describe people with both substance use and mental disorders. The term co-occurring disorders replaces the terms dual disorder or dual diagnosis. These latter terms, though used commonly to refer to the combination of substance use and mental disorders, are confusing in that they also refer to other combinations of disorders (such as mental disorders and mental retardation). Furthermore, the terms suggest that there are only two disorders occurring at the same time, when in fact there may be more. Clients with co-occurring disorders (COD) have one or more disorders relating to the use of alcohol and/or other drugs of abuse as well as one or more mental disorders. A diagnosis of co-occurring disorders occurs when at least one disorder of each type can be established independent of the other and is not simply a cluster of symptoms resulting from the one disorder."
Although co-occurring disorder is the most current term used professionally, sometime it is also referred as dual disorders.
The symptoms of co-occurring disorder include those associated with substance use along with those of mental health conditions. Psychology Today (2014) further states that, "substance use disorder is a maladaptive pattern of substance use manifested by recurrent and significant adverse consequences related to the repeated use of substances. Individuals who abuse substances may experience such harmful consequences of substance use as repeated failure to fulfill roles for which they are responsible, legal difficulties, or social and interpersonal problems. It is important to note that the chronic use of an illicit drug still constitutes a significant issue for treatment even when it does not meet the criteria for substance abuse."
Psychology Today. (2014). Co-occurring Disorders. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/co-occurring-disorders
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA). (2014). Co-occurring Disorders. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/co-occurring
Is it better to integrate both mental health and substance use disorders?
The answer is YES! According to SAMHSA (2014) "Integrated treatment produces better outcomes for individuals with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. Without integrated treatment, one or both disorders may not be addressed properly. Mental health and substance abuse authorities across the country are taking steps to integrate systems and services, and promote integrated treatment:
Systems and service integration are closely inter related Systems Integration involves the development of infrastructure within mental health and substance abuse systems to support integrated service delivery. It can occur in systems of any size, including an entire state, a region, county, agency or program.
Systems integration focuses on reorganizing the framework within which agencies and programs operate. It includes integrated system planning, implementation, and continuous quality improvement including developing mechanisms for addressing: