Schedule: Monday - Sunday - 00:00 - 24:00

Co-Occurring Disorders


Co-Occurring Disorders Formerly was known as the dual disorder or dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorders explain the existence of two or more disorders at the same time. Someone might have a problem with substance abuse along with bipolar disorder, for instance.

The terminology that is utilized to describe patients with both substance abuse and psychological disorders has developed to be more accurate, just like the field of treatment for both of them.


The term co-occurring actually takes the place of the terms dual disorder and dual diagnosis. Even though the terms dual diagnosis and dual disorder are used regularly to refer to the combination of psychological disorders and drug use, these terms are misleading as they can also refer to other combinations of disorders like mental retardation and psychological disorders.

The terms are also misleading in that they only cover two disorders occurring at the same time which is not the case as two or more can occur at the same time. People who have co-occurring disorders also referred to as COD, often have at least one mental disorder and at least one disorder springing from alcohol or substance abuse as well. An identification of co-existing condition is made when there is an existence of at least one disorder of each type which is also separate from the other, not just a series of indications stemming from a particular disorder.

Even if co-existing condition is the latest term being used in the medical field, for this specific article, we will use the term dual disorder reciprocally.


Ready to Get Help?

CALL US NOW ON 0800 246 1509


The acronym MICA (short for Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers) is sometimes used to label people with a co-occurring disorder and a noticeably serious and chronic mental disorder like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The most ideal term used is mentally ill chemically affected individuals because the term affected more aptly describes their condition and is not derogatory. Some of the other acronyms are: CAMI (chemical abuse and mental illness), MISU (mentally ill substance using), MISA (mentally ill substance abusers), SAMI (substance abuse and mental illness), ICO PSD (individuals with co-occurring psychiatric and substance disorders) and MIC'D (mentally ill chemically dependent).

Some common types of co-existing conditions consist of the combinations of major depression types associated with cocaine dependency, alcohol dependency along with panic disorder, extreme alcoholism along with polydrug abuse with schizophrenia and as well as borderline personality condition with sporadic polydrug misuse. Some patients have more than two disorders even if the focus of this is on dual disorders. The concept that applies to dual disorders normally applies also to multiple disorders.

Extremity, chronicity, disability and the level of impairment in functioning are some differing extents in which combinations of COD issues and mental disorders vary. As an example, both disorders can be mild or serious or one disorder can be more serious than the other disorder. In fact the seriousness of both disorders can alter as time passes. Degrees of impairment in functioning as well as disability can also change.

Therefore, no single combination of dual disorders exists and there's indeed significant lack of consistency amongst these disorders. Although patients with the same combination of dual disorders most of the time are met in some treatment programmes.


More than half of all adults with serious mental illness are further caused by substance use disorders (abuse or addiction related to alcohol or other drugs).


Patients that have co-occurring disorders commonly feel stronger and chronic medical, emotional and social issues compared to those that only have a mental disorder or COD without the other. Since they have two disorders, they are at a risk of COD relapse and deterioration of the psychiatric ailment. What's more, an addiction relapse frequently results in psychiatric decompensation and when mental problems worsen it frequently results in addiction relapse. That means that patients with co-occurring disorders require a specific relapse prevention plan. Patients who battle with dual disorders frequently need longer treatment, experience more emergencies and advance more slowly in treatment than patients who battle just a single disorder.

Mood disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders and anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental disorders present among patients that suffer from co-occurring disorders.