Understanding Co-occurring Disorders

How These Conditions Relate

ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anxiety are the most common mental health conditions that co-occur with substance misuse, often leading to dependence and addiction. Substance use can exacerbate and mimic the symptoms of a mental health condition. Substances can also interact with medications prescribed for mental health disorders and lessen their effectiveness.

How Co-occurring Disorders Develop

Co-occurring disorders present themselves differently. Some youth develop a mental disorder first, then turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. Others develop an addiction first, which can trigger mental health conditions such as depression. It’s also possible for these conditions to occur simultaneously, as they can be triggered by the same events or trauma. Some youth may even develop these conditions separately because both mental illnesses and substance use disorders can have the same risk factors.

Lifestyle Challenges

Youth who develop co-occurring disorders face challenges managing their health, well-being, relationships, and everyday life. If left untreated, youth are at an increased risk for being involved in crimes, poor school performance, risky sexual behavior, unhealthy relationships, and suicide.