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. Someone might have a problem with substance abuse along with bipolar disorder, for instance.
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.
Terms dual diagnosis and dual disorder have thus been replaced with the term co-occurring disorders. The terms being replaced may be misleading as they also refer to mental disorders and mental retardation occurring together in addition to their popular reference to a combination of substance abuse and mental 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. One or more disorders in the clients with co-occurring disorders (COD) relate to the use of alcohol and/or other drugs of abuse as well as one or more mental disorders. 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.
Even though the term co-occurring disorder is the most up to date term that is used by professionals, the term dual disorders will be used interchangeably for the objectives of this article.
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. 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. 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.
Borderline personality disorder with periodic polydrug abuse, alcoholism and polydrug addiction alongside schizophrenia, cocaine addiction alongside major depression are some of the most common or popular examples of co-occurring disorders. Whilst the theme of this relates to dual disorders, a few patients suffer from three or even more disorders. The concept that applies to dual disorders normally applies also to multiple disorders.
Combinations of mental disorders and co-occurring problems differ across crucial aspects like seriousness, level of impairment in functioning, duration and disability. For example, both disorders could be of the same severity or one could be mild while the other is severe. Indeed, the seriousness of both disorders may alter over time. Levels of impairment and disability in functioning may also differ.
Therefore, no single combination of dual disorders exists and there's indeed significant lack of consistency amongst these disorders. 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.
Further impairment to adults who face severe mental disorders as a result of substance abuse or dependence such as alcohol or other drugs is common.
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. They are vulnerable to both COD relapse and a worsening of the psychiatric disorder because they have two disorders. Further, worsening of psychiatric problems often leads to addiction relapse and addiction relapse often leads to psychiatric decompensation. Thus, for patients with dual disorders relapse prevention must be specially designed. Unlike patients who only have one disorder, those with dual disorders would mostly need prolonged treatment, have more difficulties and have slow progress 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.