A co-occurring disorder, also known as a dual diagnosis is having a mental health disorder paired with a substance use disorder. There are a wide range of combinations in a co-occurring disorder. One example is a person who abuses alcohol and has a bipolar diagnosis.  Current data indicates 9 million Americans have a co-occurring disorder.


Many individuals have their mental health diagnosis early in recovery or even prior to recovery. There are another group of individuals that don’t develop a co-occurring disorder until later in recovery. This can be surprising and a challenge to handle. For many individuals in recovery, getting sober was the most difficult thing they have ever done. Adding in a mental health diagnosis can complicate recovery until a comprehensive solution has been found.


Individuals with co-occurring disorders can experience more severe medical, social, and emotional problems than those with just one disorder alone. These individuals are more vulnerable to relapse, as well. Relapse can result in an increase in psychiatric symptoms. People with co-occurring disorders often need longer treatment, more support, and recover more slowly.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, people who seek treatment for drug or alcohol addiction often exhibit signs of the following disorders:

  • Depression  
  • Bipolar disorder
  •  Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety, panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Attention deficit disorder


If you have developed a co-occurring disorder late in recovery you are not alone. The most important step you can take is to get help. There are many professionals who specialize in addiction recovery. There are also a wide range of individuals who specialize in mental health disorders. Finding a support team that have a deep knowledge of both areas is critical. Seeking a treatment center later in recovery is a great option.


You may have well-meaning friends who share their opinions on mental health. These might include ideas like you shouldn’t take medication if you are sober.  You might hear you should just go to more meetings to work through your “problems”. You may even hear stories of magical recovery from mental health disorders from prayer. While these people are well intended, they are not professionals. Just like you wouldn’t take treatment suggestions for a heart problem from a friend in recovery, taking treatment instructions for a mental health diagnosis should come from a professional.


Knowledge is power. While it may have been a surprise to unveil a mental health diagnosis later in recovery, being armed with that information now allows you to get support. You don’t have to relapse to get help. You don’t have to do it alone. Treatment is available for you. You can learn to live with your co-occurring disorders one day at a time.

New Vista Behavioral Health offers a family of proven treatment centers, providing exceptional care at higher standards for better outcomes. Sweeping vistas, close proximity to the ocean, attention to luxury, and excellence in dual diagnosis, our family of care providers is focused on creating the best possible treatment experience. We’re here to help you find success in sustained recovery. We won’t quit on you. Don’t give up. Call us today to find the right New Vista program for you: 866-855-4202



Addiction and behavioral healthcare are within reach when you join us at New Vista Behavioral Health:
A far-reaching horizon and new perspective toward addiction recovery, wellness and restoration. We are a national and renowned family of treatment centers focused on distinctive patient care, evidence-based treatment modalities and unwavering compassion.

If you are ready to pursue a life committed to your health, relationships and emotional well-being, you have a team that is willing to walk alongside you and restore hope for your future. Let us help you in taking the first step in your journey to recovery.

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