Co-Occurring Disorder Statistics

Co-occurring disorders, meaning the simultaneous diagnosis of both a substance use disorder and mental health disorder, are common. Statistics on co-occurring disorders give important information on prevalence, demographics, and other details which may help with addiction and mental health treatment, as well as solutions for problems that can be a consequence of dual diagnoses.

Statistics on co-occurring disorders—also known as dual diagnoses and comorbidity— can present a clearer picture of the relationship between substance use disorders and mental health disorders.

It is important to treat both disorders concurrently for the best chance of a successful recovery.

Prevalence of Co-Occurring Disorders


Co-occurring disorders are prevalent. The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that approximately 8.2 million American adults (3.4 percent) had a mental illness (AMI) as well as a substance use disorder within the past year. It also found a co-occurrence of serious mental illness (SMI) and a substance use disorder within 2.6 million (1.1 percent) of American adults.

It is likely that someone who has either a substance use disorder or a mental health disorder will have the other as well. Reports show that 29 percent of those considered mentally ill and about 50 percent of those who have a severe mental disorder also experience substance abuse. On the flip side, 53 percent of people who abuse drugs and 37 percent of people who abuse alcohol have one or more serious mental illness.

Demographics


Some studies of co-occurring disorders have broken down the rates by demographics, showing that certain groups had higher rates of a coexistence between addiction and a mental illness:

  • Adults from the ages of 26 to 49 had the highest rates of a co-occurring disorders with AMI in the past year, at 42.7 percent, in the 2014 NSDUH
  • In adolescents from 12 to 17, 31.7 percent of those who had a major depressive episode in the past year used illicit drugs, whereas 13.4 percent of those without a major depressive episode in the past year used illicit drugs, according to the 2016 NSDUH
  • Men made up more than 50 percent of Americans with co-occurring disorders in 2014, at 4.1 million out of the total 7.9 million
  • In a study that looked at co-occurring disorders within different races and ethnicities, the percentage of people with lifetime co-occurring disorders was about 8.2 percent of Whites, 5.8 percent of Latinos, 5.4 percent of Blacks and 2.1 percent of Asians
  • Rates of mental disorders and substance use disorders are both higher among people in the United States justice system than in the general population, and a high rate of co-occurring disorders is found in this population. A report explained that 60 to 87 percent of people in the justice system with severe mental disorders have a substance use disorder as well, and that approximately 24 to 34 percent of women and 12 to 15 percent of men have co-occurring disorders

Statistics on Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders


Statistics also give information on the available treatment for co-occurring disorders and show how many people need and receive treatment. Of the facilities that participated in the 2016 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS), 47 percent reported that they provide treatment tailored to co-occurring disorders. However, not all of those with co-occurring disorders are receiving treatment for either or both of the disorders. The 2016 NSDUH showed that 48.1 percent of adults with AMI and a substance use disorder in the past year received treatment for one of the disorders at a specialty facility while approximately 6.9 percent received both types of treatment. The remainder either treated only one disorder or did not receive any treatment at all.

It’s important to address both aspects of a co-occurring disorder to achieve effective treatment, as neglecting one can stand as a roadblock to full recovery. Also, comprehensive treatment is necessary because of the seriousness of co-occurring disorders, with consequences that include an increased likelihood of relapse, suicide risk, rehospitalization and other negative outcomes. Statistics help provide information on co-occurring disorders and their treatment that can be used to help people with co-occurring disorders and improve availability of, access to and effectiveness of treatment.