Disorders that occur at the same time are referred to as co-occurring, dual diagnosis or dual disorder. For example, an individual may suffer from bipolar disorder as well as substance abuse.
While the scope of treatment for drug dependency and mental conditions has emerged to be rather specific, the same thing goes as well for the terms used to refer to individuals who both have problems with drug dependency and mental conditions.
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.
Also, there can be more than just two disorders present, while these terms are implying otherwise. People who suffer from co-occurring disorders (COD) have one or more disorders that have to do with mental disorders and one or more disorders that have to do with the use of drugs and/or alcohol. When a minimum of one disorder of both types can be confirmed which isn't dependent on the other, we can talk about diagnosing co-occurring disorders and it isn't just a bunch of symptoms that are caused by just one 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.
Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers, MICA, is used to refer to people who have a co-occurring disorder and a very serious mental disorder such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. A preferred definition is mentally ill chemically affected people since their condition is better described by the word affected and is not derogatory. Other acronyms that are used to refer to people with COD are CAMI, Chemical Abuse and Mental Illness; MIC'D, Mentally Ill Chemically Dependent; MISA, Mentally Ill Substance Abusers; MISU, Mentally Ill Substance Using; Sami, Substance Abuse and Mental Illness and ICO PSD, Individuals with co-occurring psychiatric and substance disorders.
Some typical examples of co-occurring disorders are the combinations of cocaine addiction with major depression, occasional polydrug abuse with borderline personality disorder, panic disorder with alcohol addiction and polydrug addiction and alcoholism with schizophrenia. Some patients have more than two disorders although the article focuses more on dual disorders. Multiple disorders are usually based on the same principles that can be used when talking about dual disorders.
The existence of combined co-existing conditions and those of psychiatric disorders can differ in several significant aspects like chronicity, gravity, disability and level of impairment in bodily operations. For example, both disorders could be of the same severity or one could be mild while the other is severe. In fact the seriousness of both disorders can alter as time passes. Other factors that may also vary include the level or degree of disability or impairment in day to day functions.
That means that, in fact, there are many differentiations among co-occurring disorders, not just one combination. This is not to rule out the fact that one can come across patients who have the same combination of disorders in the course of treatment.
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).
Unlike individuals who are diagnosed with mental health disorders or those with alcohol and drug dependency issues alone, those with dual disorders most of the time undergo serious and long lasting medical, emotional and social difficulties. They are susceptible, since they have two disorders, to both further impairment of mental disorder and COD relapse. Additionally, dependency relapse most of the time causes psychiatric functional deterioration and worsening of psychiatric difficulties which further results in dependency relapse. Therefore, the treatment of relapses should be specifically designed for those with dual disorders. Dual disorder patients often need longer periods of treatment, have more crises and progress slowly in treatment in comparison to patients who have a single disorder.
Psychiatric disorders most prevalent among dually diagnosed patients include personality disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, and anxiety disorders.