Describe what constitutes a co-occurring disorder. Identify 2 to 3 disorders that commonly co-occur with substance-related and addictive disorders.

A co-occurring disorder is a mental health issue that occurs in conjunction with substance use and/or addictive disorders. It refers to the simultaneous presence of two or more diagnosable mental health conditions, such as a substance abuse disorder, an addiction, and at least one other mental illness (American Psychiatric Association APA). The term “co-occurring disorders” is used to describe this type of situation where two problems occur together. It may also be referred to as dual diagnosis or comorbidity (Swanson & Homan, 2019).

People with co-occurring disorders often lack access to appropriate resources and treatment options due to their complexity which can lead them feeling overwhelmed and stuck in their problem cycles. Therefore it is important for professionals to understand the nature of these complex issues in order to provide effective care (Gibson et al., 2018). Co-occurring disorders are common among people who struggle with alcohol and drug use; research indicates that approximately 50% of individuals seeking treatment for substance abuse also have another diagnosable condition such as anxiety or depression (American Society of Addiction Medicine ASAM, 2020).

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