Disorders that occur at the same time are referred to as co-occurring, dual diagnosis or dual disorder. Someone might have a problem with substance abuse along with bipolar disorder, for instance.
Just like the area of treatment for drug use and psychological disorders has developed to become more exact, the terminology that is employed to describe people who suffer both from psychological disorders and drug use has also become more precise.
Dual disorder and dual diagnosis terms are replaced by the term co-occurring disorders. These latter terms, though used commonly to point to the mixture of substance abuse and mental disorders, are confusing in that they also point to other mixtures of disorders (like mental retardation and mental disorders).
The terms are also misleading in that they only cover two disorders occurring at the same time which is not the case as two or more can occur at the same time. 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. In order to get a co-occurring diagnosis, at least one disorder of each type has to be established and traced to be independent and not just a combination of symptoms springing from one disorder but manifesting as independent.
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, 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 better word that is more preferred in terms of its connotation is Mentally Ill Chemically Affected. 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. Some people might have more than two disorders, even though the cornerstone of this is on dual disorders. Multiple disorders go by the same rules that apply to dual disorders.
The existence of combined co-existing conditions and those of psychiatric disorders can differ in several significant aspects like chronicity, gravity, disability and level of impairment in bodily operations. 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. Specific treatment environments are, however, set up for patients that have alike combinations of dual disorders.
Further damage is inflicted in more than 50 % of all adults that have severe mental disorder as well as substance abuse disorders (abuse or addiction to alcohol or illicit drugs).
Compared patients who have a COD use problem alone or a mental health disorder, and more serious and chronic medical, social and emotional problems are often experienced by the patients with dual disorders. Since they have two disorders, they are at a risk of COD relapse and deterioration of the psychiatric ailment. Also, impairment of mental issues many times lead to dependency relapse and addiction relapse commonly leads to further mental deterioration. That means that patients with co-occurring disorders require a specific relapse prevention plan. 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.