Get help today 888-287-0471 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

Co-occurring Disorder Assessment

Co-occurring disorder assessment and treatment are essential when helping an addict with mental health problems. There is a high prevalence of mental disorders that present with substance abuse. Uncovering any co-occurring disorder lets treatment facilities tailor their rehabilitation programs to meet their patients’ needs. Most dual diagnosis rehabilitation facilities focus on integrating all programming and treatment fully.

co-occurring disorderThe SAMHSA recommends that all patients entering rehabilitation or treatment centers be screened for mental disorders. In 2010, the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality estimated that there are 45.9 million adults in the United States with some type of mental illness.

Substance abuse treatment facilities should screen for patients who might present a safety risk, such as those prone to suicide or violence. They should screen for those who have experienced sexual or physical victimization and trauma. Treatment centers should also seek to identify any learning difficulties or cognitive deficits the patient might have. During the screening process, a substance abuse facility should ask about any diagnosed mental health disorders or symptoms.

Basic Co-occurring Disorder Assessment

A basic assessment for co-occurring disorders seeks to fully understand the patient before making any rulings or diagnosis. A medical professional will first inquire about the patient’s background. A background assessment usually discusses:

  • Any family members
  • A spouse, if applicable
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Any history of other trauma
  • The patient’s financial situation
  • Overall physical health
  • Housing status
  • Employment
  • Resources and other strengths
  • Any previous criminal history

The drug assessment may then cover substance-related topics, such as:

  • When substance abuse first occurred
  • Primary drugs used, including alcohol
  • Patterns of drug use
  • Any past treatment episodes
  • Family history of substance abuse

Finally, a co-occurring disorder assessment will conclude with a discussion about any mental health problems including:

  • Any family history of mental illness
  • Client history of mental health problems
  • Any previous diagnosis
  • Any hospitalization for mental health problems
  • Any past mental health treatments
  • Current mental illness symptoms
  • Medications used to manage mental health
  • Overall mental status

Getting an overall assessment that fully addresses your substance abuse problems and any mental health issues can be a good step towards sobriety. Call for more information about co-occurring disorder treatment and assessment in your area.

Dual Diagnosis Treatments

“Getting an overall assessment that fully addresses your substance abuse problems and any mental health issues can be a good step towards sobriety. “Once a co-occurring disorder assessment has been completed, possible treatments will be discussed. While it is important to make sure no medications provided during the detoxification process could aggravate an existing mental illness, the real difference in dual diagnosis treatment lies in the therapy and support patients receive.

Most dual diagnosis addiction treatment facilities will include an on-site psychiatrist who understands co-occurring disorders and can prescribe medication for any mental illnesses. Employing an on-site psychiatrist has been shown to decrease substance use after detoxification and improve treatment retention. Many clients will require medication to address their psychiatric symptoms during treatment.

Dual diagnosis support groups are also essential during treatment. Through these support groups and the help of a therapist, many clients can begin to identify situations that trigger substance abuse or mental health problems. Their co-occurring disorder assessment can also help them understand how both issues affect their overall health.

Dual diagnosis groups allow patients who have a co-occurring disorder to talk about how their mental health issues contribute to their substance abuse problems. Mental health leaders encourage the group to talk about their psychiatric symptoms, such as hearing voices, as well as their desire to use drugs or alcohol.

Ongoing assessment as the patient begins co-occurring disorder treatment is also essential. Some symptoms that are traditionally associated with mental health issues, such as suicidal ideation and hallucinations, are also symptoms of substance abuse or withdrawal. In general, any symptoms that resolve themselves after 30 days of sobriety are usually considered to be symptoms of substance abuse.

Treatment Programs

Patients with co-occurring disorders are not uncommon. In 2010, the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality estimated 9.2 million adults with mental health issues also met the criteria to be diagnosed with substance abuse issues.

Despite the commonality of co-occurring disorders, some centers only offer addiction services. These programs do not accept patients who have been diagnosed with mental illness as well as addiction. These programs may only offer addiction services by choice or may be restricted in their offerings by limited resources. Even if a patient is well-functioning and stable, addiction-only services do not admit these patients.

Dual diagnosis treatment programs can accommodate patients who have completed a positive co-occurring disorder assessment. Their assessments, treatment planning and programs are all structured to accommodate patients with mental illnesses. Although treatment may be geared towards patients with only substance abuse problems, dual diagnosis capable programs employ staff members who are trained and able to address the interaction between substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Dual diagnosis enhanced programs fully integrate their mental health and substance abuse services. They can be essential when treating addiction patients who are not fully stable or fully functioning due to their mental illness. All addiction programs, assessments and treatment planning can easily accommodate someone with a co-occurring mental disorder.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a mental illness and a substance abuse problem, call . This hotline can provide you the information you’ll need to get a full co-occurring disorder assessment and help you find a dual diagnosis capable or dual diagnosis enhanced program that will fit your needs.

Did You Know?

  • In 2010, the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality estimated that there are 45.9 million adults in the United States with some type of mental illness.
  • According to the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, in 2010 there was an estimated 9.2 million adults with mental health issues who also met the diagnostic criteria for substance abuse issues.
  • A basic co-occurring disorder assessment asks questions about the patient’s background, substance abuse and mental health.
Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.