Addiction often comes with a price. There are a myriad of different mental and physical issues that can accompany substance abuse or come about as a result of your addiction. In fact, accompanying health issues are so common that there are two terms used when two or more conditions are present in the same person. These two terms, dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders, can appear to have nearly identical meanings to the untrained eye, but there are a few key characteristics that differentiate the two.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is when an individual is diagnosed with two or more conditions that are occurring simultaneously. While dual diagnosis is often used with regards to mental illness and substance abuse, it can refer to any combination of physical conditions occurring in the same person. If you go into a medical professional and they find two separate but equal issues, such as high blood pressure and heart disease or cancer and diabetes, it will be a dual diagnosis.
What are Co-Occurring Disorders?
Co-occurring disorders are very similar to dual diagnosis in that it is usually in reference to two or more health issues occurring at the same time. However, co-occurring disorders is usually in reference to a mental health disorder that developed as a result of substance abuse and addiction to drugs and alcohol. It also can be used to refer to a mental illness that contributes to the development of an addiction.
What Is the Difference Between Dual Diagnosis and Co-Occurring Disorders?
The key difference between dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders is the nature of the diagnosis. For dual diagnosis, while the ailments discovered could be caused by substance abuse, they are two (or more) completely separate diagnosis. Contrast that with co-occurring disorders, where mental illness led an individual to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol or the devastating effects and brain damage that comes with addiction led to the development of a mental illness. The mental health disorder and addiction are inexorably linked and must be treated together.
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