When addiction is present at the same time as one or more mental health or psychiatric issues, the combined issues are described as co-occurring disorders.
Mental health disorders and addiction often go hand-in-hand. Addiction professionals believe that at least half of all people who seek treatment for an addiction also struggle with one ore more mental health conditions.
Co-occurring disorders display several common characteristics:
- Symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse are similar. Addiction can mask symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental illness, but mental illness can also hide signs of addiction.
- Co-occurring disorders affect people in different ways. For example, people with mental illness often turn to alcohol or drugs to feel better, which can eventually lead to addiction. On the other hand, long-term use of drugs or alcohol can trigger various mental illnesses that weren’t there before. Sometimes, it’s hard to know which came first.