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A Co-Occurring Disorder (Dual Diagnosis), is a substance abuse addiction occurring simultaneously with mental health issues. In order to treat Dual Diagnoses successfully, the two must be treated together. Treating each disorder individually, will almost certainly lead to relapse. The two problems are so intimately connected, they require very deliberate and specific care to address each of the issues simultaneously.
However, the mental disorder is often difficult to diagnose. Patients often believe that the abused substance is the cause of their mental issues. Therefore, it is essential that every patient be thoroughly screened by a very experienced licensed mental health professional.
According to the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, the mental illnesses most commonly co-occurring alongside substance abuse are: mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder), anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders.
Some patients are already aware of their mental health disorder, others may not be, while others of course, may not fall into the co-occurring disorder category.