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Co-occuring Disorders and Treatment for Adolescents and Young Adults


A co-occurring disorder (COD) occurs when a teenager or young adult has both a primary mental illness and a primary substance use disorder. The term "primary" indicates that the teen or young adult has a stand alone diagnosis that is present regardless of whether they have another disorder. Because COD is more complex than a mental illness or substance abuse alone, effective treatment involves responding to these mutually interacting disorders at the same time and in an integrated way.

At one time, treatment for drug or alcohol addiction was considered to be separate from treatment for mental health disorders, and care was delivered at different facilities using radically different therapeutic approaches. As a result, many troubled teens and troubled young adults who suffered from other serious psychiatric conditions never received treatment for their substance abuse. By the same token, many teens and young adults that have attended a drug rehab with co-occurring disorders often never received the care necessary for their underlying mental health concerns.

Co-Occuring Disorder Treatment Facilities

In facilities that emphasize treatment for co-occurring disorders, staff members have specialized training and qualifications in dual diagnosis treatment. These addiction specialists understand that teenagers and young adults with co-occurring disorders face certain challenges because of their mental illness. When treatment for co-occurring disorders is combined with treatment for addiction, therapy sessions and group meetings can be structured to reflect the needs of those who are mentally ill. Symptoms like social anxiety, feelings of hopelessness or compulsive behavior don’t have to become an obstacle if these programs are tailored to the needs of these troubled teenagers and troubled young adults with co-occurring disorders.

If you know of a teen or young adult that needs treatment for co-occurring disorders please call Therapy Insider at 1 (866) 439-0775. Our professionals at Therapy Insider specialize in finding the help that best suits the needs of these teens and young adults struggling with a co-occurring disorder. Share your story with a Therapy Insider family adovacate today.