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Co-occurring Mental Health Disorder

Co-occurring Mental Health Disorder

The term co-occurring disorder substitute the term dual diagnosis or dual disorder, when referring to an individual who has a co-existing mental illness and a substance use disorder. People suffering a mental health condition may turn to alcohol or other illicit substances as a form of self-medication to recuperate their psychiatric symptoms. Though research shows that these substances can exacerbate the symptoms of mental illnesses.

Individuals with co-occurring disorders normally experience more severe and prolonged medical, social and emotional difficulties, than people suffering a psychiatric condition or substance use disorder alone. Since, they have two disorder, they are susceptible to both relapse and a failing of the mental health disorder. Additionally, addiction relapse can further cause mental distress and equally deteriorating of psychiatric problems often leads to addiction relapse.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

  • According to SAMSHA, 26.7% of people with mental health issues abused illicit drugs in 2012. Whereas, in the general public only 13.2% of people abused drugs.
  • The US Department of Veterans Affairs indicates that more that 2 out of 10 veterans who suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) concurrently have a substance use disorder.
  • Certain psychiatric conditions are most likely to use illicit substances: Antisocial personality disorders have a 15.5% abuse rate; bipolar disorder is at 14.5% and anxiety disorders have a 4.3% abuse rate.
  • According to SAMSHA, individuals struggling with dual disorders, the majority 55.8% don’t receive any treatment of either disorder, only 7.4% get treatment for both disorders.
  • In 2014, 20.2 million adults in the US had a substance use disorder and 7.9 million had both a substance use disorder and other mental illness (National Institute of Mental Health-NIH).
  • In 2015, an estimated 43.4 million adults ages 18 and older experienced some form of mental illness (other than a developmental or substance use disorder). Out of these, 8.1 million had both substance use disorder and other psychiatric illness.

Co-occurring disorders can be challenging to determine as the symptoms of the substance dependence can hide the symptoms of a mental illness. These individuals are at extreme risk for symptomatic relapses, hospitalizations, financial problems, social isolation, family conflicts, incarceration, serious medical illnesses and early death. Any of these glitches obscures the management of co-occurring disorders. Symptoms of substance use disorder may include following:

  • Neglecting friends and or families
  • Abrupt changes in behaviors
  • Using illicit drugs under hazardous conditions
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Developing tolerance and withdrawal symptoms
  • Drug dependence

According to US government drug facts

  • Overlapping genetic vulnerabilities (individuals prone to both addiction and other mental disorders)
  • Overlapping environmental vulnerabilities (stress, trauma-physical or sexual abuse, and early exposure to illicit substances)
  • Developmental factors (emotional or mental instability, stress or trauma during childhood and adolescent years)
This document is created by Azmeena Hashem (Doctor of Nursing Practice, NP-C)

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