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Our Experience

We have observed that comorbidities are common in most cases, with few instances of a single diagnosis. Furthermore, many substance abuse disorders are accompanied by mental health disorders as well. During the diagnostic phase of our intake process, it is crucial to consider both conditions to ensure that the patient is placed in a facility that is equipped to handle both.


Many individuals who develop substance use disorders (SUD) are also diagnosed with mental disorders, and vice versa. Although there are fewer studies on comorbidity among youth, research suggests that adolescents with substance use disorders also have high rates of co-occurring mental illness


Over 60% of adolescents in community-based substance use disorder treatment programs also meet diagnostic criteria for other mental illnesses.


Data show high rates of comorbid substance use disorders and anxiety disorders, which include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder,

  • Panic disorder

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.


Substance use disorders also co-occur at high prevalence with mental disorders, such as:

  • Depression

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Psychotic illness

  • Borderline personality disorder

  • Antisocial personality disorder


Patients with schizophrenia have higher rates of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use disorders than the general population. Serious mental illness among people ages 18 and older is defined at the federal level as having, at any time during the past year, a diagnosable mental, behavior, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.


Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, and other mental disorders that cause serious impairment. Around 1 in 4 individuals with SMI also have an SUD.


Although drug use and addiction can happen at any time during a person’s life, drug use typically starts in adolescence, a period when the first signs of mental illness commonly appear.


Comorbid disorders can also be seen among youth. During the transition to young adulthood (age 18 to 25 years), people with comorbid disorders need coordinated support to help them navigate potentially stressful changes in education, work, and relationships.

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Verified by

Psychology Today
Association of Intervention Specialists
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