Schedule: Monday - Sunday - 00:00 - 24:00

Disorders that occur at the same time


Co-existing conditions which is also referred to as dual diagnosis or dual condition pertains to the existence of more than one medical condition at the same time. An example is when someone suffers from drug abuse and bipolar disorder.

While the scope of treatment for drug dependency and mental conditions has emerged to be rather specific, the same thing goes as well for the terms used to refer to individuals who both have problems with drug dependency and mental conditions.


The term co-occurring actually takes the place of the terms dual disorder and dual diagnosis. 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.

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. An identification of co-existing condition is made when there is an existence of at least one disorder of each type which is also separate from the other, not just a series of indications stemming from a particular disorder.

In this article, the term dual disorders will also be used, even though the term co-occurring disorders is currently utilized among professionals.


Ready to Get Help?

CALL US NOW ON 0800 246 1509


Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers, MICA, is used to refer to people who have a co-occurring disorder and a very serious mental disorder such as bipolar disorder or 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.

Common examples of co-occurring disorders include the 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. Whilst the theme of this relates to dual disorders, a few patients suffer from three or even more disorders. Multiple disorders are usually based on the same principles that can be used when talking about 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, each of the two disorders may be serious or mild, or one may be more serious than the other. How severe the disorders are also varies with time and is not constant. Degrees of impairment in functioning and disability might also differ.

That means that, in fact, there are many differentiations among co-occurring disorders, not just one combination. Although patients with the same combination of dual disorders most of the time are met in some treatment programmes.


More than 50 per cent of adults who suffer from a serious mental disorder are also weakened by substance use disorders (addiction or abuse connected to alcohol or other substances).


Patients that have co-occurring disorders commonly feel stronger and chronic medical, emotional and social issues compared to those that only have a mental disorder or COD without the other. Since they have two disorders, they are at a risk of COD relapse and deterioration of the psychiatric ailment. What's more, an addiction relapse frequently results in psychiatric decompensation and when mental problems worsen it frequently results in addiction relapse. This is why relapse prevention should be particularly made for patients having dual disorders. Users with dual disorders commonly need longer rehab, have a greater number of crises and advance more slowly in treatment compared to patients that only have a single disorder.

Personality, psychotic and mood disorders are among some of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders diagnosed in dual patient disorders.