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What is Co-Occurring (or Dual Diagnosis)?

Co-Occurring (or Dual Diagnosis) is a term that is used to describe having more than one mental health or substance use disorder. This is also known as having co-occurring or co-morbid disorders.

Nearly 50 percent of people who receive treatment for substance abuse also have a mental health disorder, according to national estimates. The reasons for this can be complex.

For many, drugs and alcohol can be used as a way to self-medicate symptoms of mental illness. Unfortunately, while drugs and alcohol may help to numb some symptoms, abusing drugs and alcohol can also make symptoms worse over time. This can create greater emotional and psychological distress, including increased risk for suicide.


Common types of dual diagnosis include:

  • Major Depression

  • Anxiety Disorders

  • Eating Disorders

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Bipolar Disorder

  • Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder

  • Postpartum Depression