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Disorders that occur at the same time


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.

The special terms used to describe people with dual disorder has evolved in the same way that the area of addictions and mental disorder treatment has grown and advanced.


The terms dual disorder or dual diagnosis are replaced by the term co-occurring disorders. 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.

Additionally, the terminology may denote of the occurrence of just two disorders simultaneously when as a matter of fact there could be others, too. 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. A diagnosis of co-occurring disorders is caused when at least one disorder of each type can be managed independent of the other and is not the simple bunch of symptoms resulting from the on disorder.

For the purposes of this article, we will use the dual disorders term interchangeably even if the co-occurring disorder is the most current term used professionally.


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For people that suffer from COD, another term is commonly used and it is MICA, which means Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers in cases where patients suffer from an extreme and constant mental disorder like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Mentally ill chemically affected people is the phrase that is preferred because the word affected is not pejorative and it designates their condition in a better way. 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 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 even if the focus of this is on dual disorders. Multiple disorders go by the same rules that apply to dual 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. However, with time, the extremity of both disorders might change. Degree of disability and weakening of bodily functions can as well differ.

Therefore, there isn't a specific combination of dual disorders; in reality, there's a big difference among these. Though, patients with combinations of dual disorders that are alike are regularly found in specific treatment environments.


Further damage is inflicted in more than 50 % of all adults that have severe mental disorder as well as substance abuse disorders (abuse or addiction to alcohol or illicit 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. As they suffer from two disorders, they're at risk of a co-occurring disorder relapse and their mental disorder could also worsen. What's more, an addiction relapse frequently results in psychiatric decompensation and when mental problems worsen it frequently results in addiction relapse. This is why relapse prevention should be particularly made for patients having 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.

Mental disorders that are most common amongst dually diagnosed people are personality disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders and mood disorders.