A man with a co-occurrence disorder sits thinking about his addiction

For many people, addiction and alcoholism is only but a part of overall mental health problems in which they suffer from. For these people, substance abuse disorders are coupled with mental health issues such as mood and anxiety disorders. Co-occurrence is also commonly referred to as dual-diagnosis.

Here we take a look at co-occurrence and addiction.

What is Co-occurrence?

Co-occurrence, also referred to as comorbidity, refers to those who suffer from both a substance abuse disorder along with a mental health disorder. Often times, both disorders tend to exasperate each other, causing those afflicted with co-occurrence a great deal of pain.

Examples of common mental health disorders that occur are the following:

Mood DisordersA man holds a drink while thinking about his co-occurrence disorder

  • Major Depression
  • Dysthymia
  • Bipolar Disorder

Anxiety-related Disorders

  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Severe Mental Illnesses

  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective Disorder (1)

What is the Prevalence of Co-occurrence?

A 2004 study published in JAMA Psychiatry sought to test the prevalence and co-occurrence of substance use disorders in people who also had mood and anxiety disorders, such as the ones mentioned above.

The study found that “associations between most substance use disorders and independent mood and anxiety disorders were overwhelmingly positive and significant”. (2)

So what does this mean for addiction treatment?

The high correlation between substance abuse and independent mood and anxiety disorders demonstrates the importance of recognizing co-occurrence in addiction treatment.

Studies suggest the importance of treating both the substance abuse issues along with the mental health issues at the same time to increase the chances of positive treatment outcomes. (3)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. http://www.bhevolution.org/public/cooccurring_overview.page
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/482045
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851027/