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The Transition House, Inc.

7 myths about co-occurring disorders

The names for the condition are many – dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorders, dual disorder, and mentally ill chemical abusers – but the condition is typically a combination of behavioral issues and substance abuse.

In the past, treatment of each condition – behavioral health issues and substance abuse – was done separately. Often times, the behavioral health issue was treated in one center and substance abuse was treated in a totally different center. Not anymore.

With one center sometimes refusing to treat both conditions, patients were forced to choose which condition to treat. And when only one condition is treated, the person usually never really gets better.

While there has been advancement in the treatment of the conditions, some myths still exist.


  1. The conditions are never related. – Actually, yes, people with behavioral health issues will typically turn to substance abuse to self-medicate their condition.

  2. The chicken or the egg? – In some cases, behavioral issues lead to substance abuse. But in others, substance abuse can impact mood and cause behavioral issues.

  3. I can control it. – Early last year, ABC News Anchor Elizabeth Vargas broker her silence about how panic attacks and anxiety had led to her alcoholism. She denied she had a problem, but realized she needed to get help when she couldn’t go through with an interview for 20/20.

  4. Only adults experience this. – Children who may be experiencing depression could turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism, making their behavioral health issues worse.

  5. You only have to treat one condition. – Substance abuse and behavioral health issues are often interrelated and treating both conditions affords an individual the best chance for recovery.

  6. It’s easy to diagnose. – A person with behavioral health issues may turn to substance abuse to feel better. The opposite result occurs because substance abuse may make a person’s behavioral issues worse; they are not able to cope with their conditions and drug or alcohol use may interfere with medication they are taking for behavioral health issues.

  7. Treatment usually doesn’t work. – While treatment for simple behavioral health issues or substance abuse issues is usually effective, the same results are possible for co-occurring disorders. An integrated treatment approach is necessary to deal with both issues.

If you think you may have a behavioral health issue or substance abuse problems, talk to us about your condition. If you are looking for co-occurring disorders treatment centers in Orlando, we’re here to help!

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