Co-occurring disorders (previously called dual disorder or dual diagnosis) describe the existence of two or more than two disorders at the very same point in time. An example is when someone suffers from drug abuse and bipolar disorder.
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.
Dual disorder and dual diagnosis terms are replaced by the term co-occurring disorders. Even though these replaced terms have usually been used when discussing a mix of mental disorders and substance abuse, they are also referring to other combinations of disorders (like mental disorders and mental retardation), which can sometimes cause confusion.
Also, there can be more than just two disorders present, while these terms are implying otherwise. Patients with co-occurring disorders (COD) have one or more mental disorders, as well as one or more disorders that are related to the substance abuse. 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.
In this article, the term dual disorders will also be used, even though the term co-occurring disorders is currently utilized among professionals.
Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers in which the acronym MICA is derived from is sometimes used to describe individuals who have co-existing conditions and an evidently serious and stubborn mental condition like bipolar disorder and 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.
Combinations of alcohol addiction with panic disorder, major depression with cocaine addiction, borderline personality disorder with episodic polydrug abuse, and alcoholism and polydrug addiction with schizophrenia are some of the most usual cases of co-occurring disorders. 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.
The mixture of psychiatric disorders and COD problems differ along important dimensions like chronicity, disability, severity, and degree of impairment in functioning. For instance, one disorder can be more extreme than the other, or both can be equally mild or extreme. Indeed, the seriousness of both disorders may alter over time. 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.
Over half of adult individuals having serious mental illness also have drug use disorders which can come in the form of misuse or dependency associated with the use of alcohol and drugs.
Patients with dual disorders go through much more emotional, social and chronic medical problems in comparison to patients who only have a mental health disorder or a co-occurring disorder caused by substance abuse or dependence only. As they suffer from two disorders, they're at risk of a co-occurring disorder relapse and their mental disorder could also worsen. Also, a cycle is likely where once there is a relapse in addiction recovery, the patient becomes more prone to a psychiatric worsening which makes it much easier to relapse into an addiction. Therefore, preventing a relapse must be consciously devised for those who suffer from dual disorders. Compared with patients who have a single disorder, patients with dual disorders often have more crises, require longer treatment, and grow more gradually in treatment.
Psychiatric disorders which is rampant among patients having dual disorders and can comprise of anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders and personality disorders.