5316345.jpegA co-occurring disorder, formerly known as a dual diagnosis, is a term used to describe when an individual experiences both mental health and substance use disorders at the same time. This can complicate a person's treatment and recovery if both diagnoses are not addressed appropriately. Each disorder can affect the other and make it more difficult to manage.

According to SAMHSA's 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 21.5 million adults in the United States have a co-occurring disorder. And only 10% of all adults with co-occurring disorders received treatment for both conditions in the past year.

With Greenbriar, a drug and alcohol rehab in Pittsburgh, you can get specialized treatment for co-occurring disorders, addressing both substance use and mental health aspects. This integrated treatment approach enhances your chances for long-term recovery.

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Common Co-Occurring Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5-TR),  identifies co-occurring disorders as conditions where individuals simultaneously deal with two or more issues: substance use disorders (SUDs), characterized by compulsive use despite harmful consequences, and mental health disorders. There are no specific combinations of mental and substance use disorders that are exclusively classified as co-occurring disorders. 

Some common mental health issues in SUD treatment include:

  • Anxiety and mood disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Conduct disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

The substances a patient receiving treatment for co-occurring disorders might misuse include: 

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Opioids
  • Stimulants
  • Marijuana
  • Hallucinogens
  • Prescription drugs


Symptoms of co-occurring disorders can vary greatly depending on the specific combinations and severity of each disorder. Some common symptoms include:

  • Using substances to cope with mental health challenges 
  • Increased risk-taking behavior, including substance use
  • Sudden changes in mood or behavior
  • Difficulty managing daily responsibilities and relationships
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Lack of motivation and loss of interest in activities 


There is no single cause for co-occurring disorders. However, The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicates three main reasons for comorbidity between substance use and other mental health disorders. These are: 

  1. Shared risk factors: Some individuals may have genetic or environmental vulnerabilities that increase their risk for both substance use and mental disorders.
  2. The effects of substances on the brain: Substance use can cause changes in brain chemistry, leading to or exacerbating existing mental illnesses.
  3. Self-medication: People may use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with difficult emotions or symptoms of a mental disorder, leading to dependence and addiction.

How Greenbriar Supports Your Recovery

At  Greenbriar, we understand the complexity of treating co-occurring disorders and the need for a comprehensive approach. Our specialized services are designed to support individuals on their path to recovery.

  • Integrated Treatment Planning: Tailoring treatment plans to address both substance use and mental health conditions simultaneously.
  • Psychiatric Evaluation and Medication Management: Conducting thorough assessments and utilizing medications effectively to treat symptoms of mental health disorders while addressing substance abuse.
  • Detoxification:  Safe and comfortable withdrawal process with 24/7 medical supervision.
  • Evidence-Based Therapies: Implementing proven therapeutic methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and motivational interviewing to treat co-occurring disorders.
  • Peer Support and Group Therapy: Facilitating group sessions that provide support, shared experiences, and coping strategies among individuals facing similar challenges.
  • Family Support and Education: Engaging families in the healing process, providing education on co-occurring disorders, and strengthening family dynamics.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Continued Care Planning: Offering monitoring and support to  prevent relapse and manage the disorders long term, including follow-up appointments and connections to community resources.

Recovery is Possible

While having a co-occurring disorder can be challenging, recovery is possible with the right treatment and support. By addressing both substance use and mental health problems simultaneously, individuals can overcome these challenges and lead fulfilling lives. 

Greenbriar is dedicated to providing comprehensive and individualized care for individuals with co-occurring disorders. With our evidence-based treatment methods and compassionate support, we aim to help individuals achieve lasting recovery and improved overall well-being. 

Seek help from a qualified treatment center like Greenbriar. Recovery can be a challenging journey, but you don't have to do it alone -schedule an appointment or contact at (800) 637 4673.

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