A person is diagnosed with concurrent disorder when they are recognized as having both a mental health problem and a substance abuse problem. For example, someone with major depression who also abuses alcohol has a concurrent disorder, as does someone with schizophrenia who abuses cannabis. A person with concurrent disorder can have more than one mental health problem (schizophrenia and depression) and/or more than one substance abuse problem (cocaine and marijuana).
Having a concurrent disorder can be very challenging as each issue can make the other worse, leading to disruptive life situations such as unemployment and/or homelessness. For example, someone who loses their job due to a substance abuse problem may experience increased depression because of their unemployment. Health wise, dealing with two medical issues at the same time can lead to poorer functioning and a greater chance of relapse. These issues can be very discouraging for both the affected person and their families and friends.
Did you know?
It’s uncertain how many people have concurrent disorders, but it is known that people with mental illnesses have higher rates of addiction than people in the general population. In fact, studies have shown that between 40-60% of people who have mental health problems will have a substance abuse problem.
As someone who is struggling with a concurrent disorder, learning as much as you can about your illness can help you to regain control over your life.
As a relative or friend, you can play an important role in encouraging a person to seek professional help. By learning about concurrent disorders, you can help your loved one find and stick with an effective recovery program.
As with any illness, a person with a concurrent disorder can improve once proper care is given. You can learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of concurrent disorder – and help yourself or someone else to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.
There are many different kinds of problems that are covered by the term concurrent disorder, including different types of mental health issues and different substance abuse problems. Because of this, the treatment approach for each individual is different – there is no single best approach.
As concurrent disorders become increasingly recognized, health professionals are working together to come up with comprehensive treatment programs. To be effective, treatment for a concurrent disorder must be integrated, meaning you have to deal with the mental health problem(s) as well and the substance abuse problem(s).
Treatment options include:
For a list of places where you can get treatment and/or find a doctor, click here.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, you can learn more about your choices and figure out which treatments might be best for you. To learn more click here.