What Does Comorbidity Mean?

By O'Connor Professional Group

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NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, defines comorbidity as “two or more disorders or illnesses occurring in the same person.” Comorbid disorders “can occur at the same time or one after the other. Comorbidity also implies interactions between the illnesses that can worsen the course of both.”

Comorbidity is not a regulated or standardized term in the medical community. Interchangeably used with dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders, the terms generally mean the same thing: an individual who has two issues, either medical or psychological, occurring at the same time. Some concern is given to which disorder came first, which disorder inflates the other more severely, or which disorder needs treating first.

In the treatment industry, comorbidity is an important topic. Drugabuse.gov explains that “compared with the general population, people addicted to drugs are roughly twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders, with the reverse also true.” Addiction is inspired by mental illness oftentimes and addiction can cause mental illness. Comorbid disorders can occur for many possible reasons, though science has yet to conclusively say what is of causation to what. Many people with comorbid disorders:

  • Have similar genetic predispositions which put them at risk for both mental illnesses and addiction, meaning they are more vulnerable to developing one or the other after a first appears.
  • React to triggers the same way in addiction as well as mental illness. Frequently, the triggers for both are the same. For example, someone who has experienced trauma might react to stress with symptoms of anxiety or turning to substance abuse as a way to cope.

Is Addiction a mental illness?

Addiction is a mental health disorder. Addiction is also a medical issue. Addiction is also a learning disorder. Addiction is also a developmental disorder. Addiction is a complex disease which is chronically progressive, as well as potentially fatal. Those living with addiction are living with a relapsing and remitting illness, meaning there are periods of activity and periods of inactivity. Unique when compared to other medical or mental issues, relapse into addiction can be controlled. Lifetime abstinence leads to lifetime remission from addiction.

Let the O’Connor Professional Group take the guesswork out of putting a treatment plan together. Our combined personal and professional experience empowers us to empower you with a private consultation and customized plan of action for getting the help you need. Call us today for information: 617 910-3940

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