Common Co-Occurring Disorders: Defined

Addiction strikes people from various backgrounds: from the homeless populations to the most successful business professionals. It does not differentiate between gender, family status, or age.

While the stage of substance abuse defines the severity of the symptoms, most patients struggle with identical issues. The physical signs are often obvious and give away the condition of the patient.

Often, addicts struggle with not only physical pain but also mental discomfort and instability. An imbalanced brain could contribute to the development of a more serious condition, known as a co-occurring disorder.

What Does a Co-Occurring Disorder Entail?

One of the most common factors for people to start using drugs is to suppress negative feelings. They could be the result of an underlying mental condition or a sign of the development of such.

When addicts feel weak and unable to cope with their dark emotions, they find escape and support in drug use. Then, they start to believe that the substance is helping them manage their otherwise pressing psychological issues.

At this point, the person is hooked. Cravings become more intense, tolerance increases, and the vicious cycle is closed. The patient now is suffering from a co-occurring disorder AKA dual diagnosis.

The only way out involves adequate treatment. Finding a reliable and safe therapy alternative could make or break one’s success in managing the disease.

Tip: The options will vary based on your location. If you are unsure of where to begin, you can just search Google to gather a rough idea, e.g. “What is the Best drug treatment in Dc?” or “The most reputable Treatment center in VA.”

What Are the Most Typical Symptoms?

No universal answer has been provided to pinpoint when someone is suffering from a dual diagnosis. Often, patients experience a variety of symptoms, as they are coping with simultaneously occurring disorders.

The signs could be divided into two categories:

Related to Substance Abuse

Mood swings and extreme behavioral changes

Unprovoked distancing from friends & family

Unusually risky choices

Reckless use of substances in dangerous environments

A substantial increase in substance intake, due to higher tolerance

Inappropriate use of drugs & alcohol triggered by uncontrollable cravings

Induced by Psychological Imbalances

Sudden loss of concentration

Deteriorating attention span and memory

Absurd thinking patterns & lack of logic

Depressive demeanor and suicidal tendencies

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Though the list of disease combinations for dual diagnosis patients is intricate and lengthy, they often face similar ailments.


Over 18 million American adults have reported a major depressive episode at least once in their lifetime, while another 11 million have claimed that it was combined with impairment.

People admit that they either seek drugs to alleviate their emotional pain or to provoke the otherwise lost happy emotions.

Depression, though, only intensifies after the ‘high’ has dissipated. The sorrowful feelings become even more unbearable. The addict demands the false euphoria, which leaves them running in the same circle of suppressing the negative and craving for the positive.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Victims of PTSD are often recovering from extremely brutal or lethal situations. Often, they survive serious vehicle collisions, natural disasters, or physical & mental abuse.

The severity of their trauma causes them to unintentionally re-live the painful episodes. Once the patient feels hopeless, they seek asylum in substances.

Unfortunately, the repercussions of repeated drug abuse only create more complications. Withdrawal symptoms often strengthen adverse feelings and disturb normal sleeping schedules.

Bipolar Disorder

Manic-depressive episodes correlate to frequent drug abuse and rank as the second most popular co-occurring disorder.

Patients often report that the psychological condition preceded the development of substance abuse. They explain that they are desperate to aid the extreme feelings caused by the alternating episodes.

However, they fail to comprehend that drugs worsen the severity and unpredictability of their mental state.


Coping with schizophrenia is associated with the constant brain shift between perceived & imagined reality. Patients often fail to differentiate between the two.

Lacking sound judgment of the world, schizophrenics start using drugs to escape the confusion and hallucinations. The results, though, are contrary to their expectations. They end up suffering even more.

Final Thoughts

Certain groups of people are more prone to developing drug addiction. When one’s mental condition is unstable, they often seek to aid the symptoms with various substances.

Understanding the nature of co-occurring disorders is the first step in the healing process. Admitting to it and ideally, reaching out for adequate help should follow up.

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