Opioid/Heroin Awareness » Mental Health & Substance Abuse

Mental Health & Substance Abuse

When a person who has a mental health disorder also develops a substance abuse disorder it is referred to as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis.  Though symptoms of one disorder may predate the other, both disorders tend to complicate one another making it difficult to separate the symptoms of one disorder from the other.  According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 7.9 million adults had co-occurring disorders.

People with mental heath disorders are more likely than people without metal health disorders to experience a substance abuse problem and diagnosing these situations can be difficult since symptoms of substance abuse can often mask symptoms of mental illness and vice versa.  Some warning signs to look for are a worsening of mental health symptoms even when receiving treatment and substance abuse problems that seem to resist treatment.

For more information see the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations webpage on co-occurring disorders.


If you or someone close to you needs help for a substance use disorder, talk to your doctor or call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.