Diagnosing a co-occurring disorder

The link between mental health and addiction has long been proven, but how many people with mental health disorders also have a problem with drugs and alcohol?

What is a dual diagnosis?

The NHS and other clinical bodies use the term dual diagnosis (used interchangeably with the co-occurring disorder) to describe anyone who suffers from a mental health condition and a substance use disorder, or vice versa.

What mental health conditions are commonly linked with addiction?

Any mental health condition can lead to substance abuse, but some are more commonly recognised than others. Some of the most frequently treated conditions that have a link with addiction include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

How many people suffer from dual diagnoses?

UK studies have reported dual diagnosis rates of 20–37% across all mental health settings and 6–15% in addiction settings. Rates vary by gender, ethnicity, and location, though evidence suggests that the number of people diagnosed with a severe mental health disorder or illness and a substance use disorder has risen in recent years.

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