How Do I Know If I Have a Co-occurring Disorder?

Reviewed May 31, 2017

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Summary

  • Screening for both issues can be difficult
  • Certain mental illnesses occur more commonly with substance use disorders
  • Alcohol and nicotine are common drugs linked with COD

Checking for a mental illness is often fairly clear-cut. That is because a lot of research has been done to make this process better. The same can be said for substance use disorders. We now know a great deal more about this field than we ever did before.

It is harder to screen for more than one issue at the same time. One reason for this is a lack of dual training. A mental health service may not be able to spot a substance use disorder. A substance use treatment center may not be able to spot a mental illness. So just how does one know if he has a co-occurring disorder (COD)?

COD means having at least one mental illness and one or more substance use disorder. The substance use can be any drug or drugs. The mental illness can be any mental disorder, but some are more common with COD.

Depression and COD

Depression is a mental illness that is often ignored. Sometimes it is the result of another health matter. Symptoms can be weight loss, lack of sleep, and lack of energy. These signs are also common among other health issues. Studies show that a third of people with depression also have a substance use disorder.

Bipolar disorder and COD

Roughly 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder also have a substance use issue. It is thought that these two disorders affect the same chemicals in the brain. Studies suggest that people with this illness may try to medicate themselves through alcohol use. It is also believed that bipolar disorder may be a risk factor for substance use. Marijuana use can be very common with this disorder.

Schizophrenia and COD

Substance use disorder happens quite often with schizophrenia. Drinking and drug use can also mask some of its symptoms. This is true both during times of use as well as times of withdrawal. Marijuana use can even make the symptoms worse.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder also happen often with COD. Other disorders linked to mood, anxiety, sleep, eating, and personality can be common as well.

Substance use disorders and COD

Any drug can be the source of a substance use disorder. This can range from caffeine and nicotine to cocaine and heroin. When the drug use causes harm or makes normal living hard it is a disorder. Social, legal, and physical problems are often the result.

Alcohol and nicotine are among the most common drugs linked with COD. These types of addictions are very hard to break, but it can be done. Recovery requires a strong support group. Substance use must be treated apart from, but at the same time as, mental disorders.

Signs of substance use disorder

Substance use disorder has a broad range of symptoms based on the drug or drugs. Many of these are the same as those for a mental illness. Here is a list of some of the more common signs to look for:

  • Moodiness
  • Nervousness
  • Touchiness
  • Low spirits
  • Numbness
  • Forgetfulness
  • High-risk taking
  • Withdrawal

You may not realize that your drinking or substance use is an issue. You may be in denial about your need for help. Here are some other signs that you may have a substance use disorder:

  • Getting drunk or high all the time
  • Drinking or doing other drugs by yourself
  • Driving while drunk or high
  • Building up a tolerance to drinking or other drugs
  • Hiding or lying about drinking or taking other drugs
  • Withdrawing from friends or hobbies to get drunk or high
  • Going to work or school high or drunk
  • Missing work or school because of drugs or drinking
  • Passing out or being hung over often

Get treatment

If you think you may have COD you should tell your doctor right away. You can then be evaluated to see if you need to be looked at further. If you do have COD, early care will help with your recovery. You should also notice feeling much better when you are being treated for both issues. With the right help and support, people can and do recover.

Resources

Alcoholics Anonymous
www.aa.org

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
www.dbsalliance.org

Mental Health America
www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Narcotics Anonymous
www.na.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org

National Institute of Mental Health
www.nimh.nih.gov

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
www.samhsa.gov

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//PHD1131/PHD1131.pdf and http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//PHD1130/PHD1130.pdf; Mental Health America, www.nmha.org/conditions/co-occurring-disorders-and-depression and www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/co-occurring-disorder-and-youth; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml
Reviewed by Sanjay Vaswani, MD, CMQ, DFAPA, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Screening for both issues can be difficult
  • Certain mental illnesses occur more commonly with substance use disorders
  • Alcohol and nicotine are common drugs linked with COD

Checking for a mental illness is often fairly clear-cut. That is because a lot of research has been done to make this process better. The same can be said for substance use disorders. We now know a great deal more about this field than we ever did before.

It is harder to screen for more than one issue at the same time. One reason for this is a lack of dual training. A mental health service may not be able to spot a substance use disorder. A substance use treatment center may not be able to spot a mental illness. So just how does one know if he has a co-occurring disorder (COD)?

COD means having at least one mental illness and one or more substance use disorder. The substance use can be any drug or drugs. The mental illness can be any mental disorder, but some are more common with COD.

Depression and COD

Depression is a mental illness that is often ignored. Sometimes it is the result of another health matter. Symptoms can be weight loss, lack of sleep, and lack of energy. These signs are also common among other health issues. Studies show that a third of people with depression also have a substance use disorder.

Bipolar disorder and COD

Roughly 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder also have a substance use issue. It is thought that these two disorders affect the same chemicals in the brain. Studies suggest that people with this illness may try to medicate themselves through alcohol use. It is also believed that bipolar disorder may be a risk factor for substance use. Marijuana use can be very common with this disorder.

Schizophrenia and COD

Substance use disorder happens quite often with schizophrenia. Drinking and drug use can also mask some of its symptoms. This is true both during times of use as well as times of withdrawal. Marijuana use can even make the symptoms worse.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder also happen often with COD. Other disorders linked to mood, anxiety, sleep, eating, and personality can be common as well.

Substance use disorders and COD

Any drug can be the source of a substance use disorder. This can range from caffeine and nicotine to cocaine and heroin. When the drug use causes harm or makes normal living hard it is a disorder. Social, legal, and physical problems are often the result.

Alcohol and nicotine are among the most common drugs linked with COD. These types of addictions are very hard to break, but it can be done. Recovery requires a strong support group. Substance use must be treated apart from, but at the same time as, mental disorders.

Signs of substance use disorder

Substance use disorder has a broad range of symptoms based on the drug or drugs. Many of these are the same as those for a mental illness. Here is a list of some of the more common signs to look for:

  • Moodiness
  • Nervousness
  • Touchiness
  • Low spirits
  • Numbness
  • Forgetfulness
  • High-risk taking
  • Withdrawal

You may not realize that your drinking or substance use is an issue. You may be in denial about your need for help. Here are some other signs that you may have a substance use disorder:

  • Getting drunk or high all the time
  • Drinking or doing other drugs by yourself
  • Driving while drunk or high
  • Building up a tolerance to drinking or other drugs
  • Hiding or lying about drinking or taking other drugs
  • Withdrawing from friends or hobbies to get drunk or high
  • Going to work or school high or drunk
  • Missing work or school because of drugs or drinking
  • Passing out or being hung over often

Get treatment

If you think you may have COD you should tell your doctor right away. You can then be evaluated to see if you need to be looked at further. If you do have COD, early care will help with your recovery. You should also notice feeling much better when you are being treated for both issues. With the right help and support, people can and do recover.

Resources

Alcoholics Anonymous
www.aa.org

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
www.dbsalliance.org

Mental Health America
www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Narcotics Anonymous
www.na.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org

National Institute of Mental Health
www.nimh.nih.gov

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
www.samhsa.gov

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//PHD1131/PHD1131.pdf and http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//PHD1130/PHD1130.pdf; Mental Health America, www.nmha.org/conditions/co-occurring-disorders-and-depression and www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/co-occurring-disorder-and-youth; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml
Reviewed by Sanjay Vaswani, MD, CMQ, DFAPA, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Screening for both issues can be difficult
  • Certain mental illnesses occur more commonly with substance use disorders
  • Alcohol and nicotine are common drugs linked with COD

Checking for a mental illness is often fairly clear-cut. That is because a lot of research has been done to make this process better. The same can be said for substance use disorders. We now know a great deal more about this field than we ever did before.

It is harder to screen for more than one issue at the same time. One reason for this is a lack of dual training. A mental health service may not be able to spot a substance use disorder. A substance use treatment center may not be able to spot a mental illness. So just how does one know if he has a co-occurring disorder (COD)?

COD means having at least one mental illness and one or more substance use disorder. The substance use can be any drug or drugs. The mental illness can be any mental disorder, but some are more common with COD.

Depression and COD

Depression is a mental illness that is often ignored. Sometimes it is the result of another health matter. Symptoms can be weight loss, lack of sleep, and lack of energy. These signs are also common among other health issues. Studies show that a third of people with depression also have a substance use disorder.

Bipolar disorder and COD

Roughly 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder also have a substance use issue. It is thought that these two disorders affect the same chemicals in the brain. Studies suggest that people with this illness may try to medicate themselves through alcohol use. It is also believed that bipolar disorder may be a risk factor for substance use. Marijuana use can be very common with this disorder.

Schizophrenia and COD

Substance use disorder happens quite often with schizophrenia. Drinking and drug use can also mask some of its symptoms. This is true both during times of use as well as times of withdrawal. Marijuana use can even make the symptoms worse.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder also happen often with COD. Other disorders linked to mood, anxiety, sleep, eating, and personality can be common as well.

Substance use disorders and COD

Any drug can be the source of a substance use disorder. This can range from caffeine and nicotine to cocaine and heroin. When the drug use causes harm or makes normal living hard it is a disorder. Social, legal, and physical problems are often the result.

Alcohol and nicotine are among the most common drugs linked with COD. These types of addictions are very hard to break, but it can be done. Recovery requires a strong support group. Substance use must be treated apart from, but at the same time as, mental disorders.

Signs of substance use disorder

Substance use disorder has a broad range of symptoms based on the drug or drugs. Many of these are the same as those for a mental illness. Here is a list of some of the more common signs to look for:

  • Moodiness
  • Nervousness
  • Touchiness
  • Low spirits
  • Numbness
  • Forgetfulness
  • High-risk taking
  • Withdrawal

You may not realize that your drinking or substance use is an issue. You may be in denial about your need for help. Here are some other signs that you may have a substance use disorder:

  • Getting drunk or high all the time
  • Drinking or doing other drugs by yourself
  • Driving while drunk or high
  • Building up a tolerance to drinking or other drugs
  • Hiding or lying about drinking or taking other drugs
  • Withdrawing from friends or hobbies to get drunk or high
  • Going to work or school high or drunk
  • Missing work or school because of drugs or drinking
  • Passing out or being hung over often

Get treatment

If you think you may have COD you should tell your doctor right away. You can then be evaluated to see if you need to be looked at further. If you do have COD, early care will help with your recovery. You should also notice feeling much better when you are being treated for both issues. With the right help and support, people can and do recover.

Resources

Alcoholics Anonymous
www.aa.org

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
www.dbsalliance.org

Mental Health America
www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Narcotics Anonymous
www.na.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org

National Institute of Mental Health
www.nimh.nih.gov

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
www.samhsa.gov

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//PHD1131/PHD1131.pdf and http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//PHD1130/PHD1130.pdf; Mental Health America, www.nmha.org/conditions/co-occurring-disorders-and-depression and www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/co-occurring-disorder-and-youth; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml
Reviewed by Sanjay Vaswani, MD, CMQ, DFAPA, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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