1. Understanding Substance Use Problems and Addiction
What are concurrent disorders?
When someone has both a substance use problem and a mental health problem, it is called a concurrent or co-occurring disorder. Sometimes substance use can cause a mental health problem. Or, sometimes a mental health problem may lead people to use substances to relieve their symptoms.
There are a number of reasons why people often have both a substance use problem and a mental health problem:
Having either a substance use or a mental health problem greatly increases the possibility of having the other problem. Specifically, more than 15 per cent of people with substance use problems have co-occurring mental illnesses, while at least 20 per cent of people with a mental illness have a co-occurring substance use problem (CAMH, n.d.). These problems can look very similar, which makes it difficult for family members and professionals to know whether their loved one is experiencing a substance use problem or a mental health problem—or both.