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The Effects of Co-Occurring Disorder

The Effects of Co-Occurring Disorder in Family, Friends, and Jobs

The effects of co-occurring disorders have a lingering presence through disarray of emotions and relationships. “Co-Occurring Disorder” refers to the condition in which an individual has both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder simultaneously. The inner complexities between these disorders can create a difficult set of challenges for the affected individual, as well as for their family, friends, and workplace. Here’s a breakdown of how co-occurring disorders can impact these areas.

Impact on Family and Friends from Co-Occurring Disorders

Emotional Stress

The emotional strain from co-occurring disorders on family and friends results from the individual’s unpredictable behavior associated with their condition. The fluctuating moods, potential for aggression, or withdrawal behaviors can strain relationships. This stress creates relationship strain as well. Family dynamics and friendships can be significantly affected, with increased conflict, misunderstandings, and sometimes even the breakdown of relationships.

Social Isolation

The stigma associated with mental health and substance use disorders can lead to social isolation for both the individual and their family members. Misunderstanding someone’s situation and creating a prejudice against the individual can lead to feelings of loneliness and may directly impact their substance use. Friends and extended family may withdraw too, because they do not understand the situation or are unsure how to help. Those nearest to the individual must listen and show support to indicate care.

Increased Responsibility

Family members may have additional responsibilities, including caring for the individual, managing their treatment, and handling financial or legal issues. This can lead to burnout and affect the caregivers’ mental and physical health.

The effects of Co-Occurring Disorder in the Workplace

Reduced Productivity

Individuals with co-occurring disorders may struggle with maintaining focus, meeting deadlines, and fulfilling their job responsibilities, leading to reduced productivity. This fall in productivity comes from a distracted mind, a “pull” to their substance. Having a distracted mind and altered focus reduces productivity.

Increased Absenteeism and Workplace Conflicts

Co-occurring disorders have a significant impact on an employee’s absence from work. Health issues, appointments, or other issues related to their conditions can result in frequent absences from work, affecting job performance and reliability. Behavioral issues stemming from the disorders, such as difficulty handling stress, irritability, or impaired judgment, can lead to conflicts with colleagues and supervisors. Co-occurring disorders also can result in job loss. In severe cases, the cumulative impact of reduced productivity, absenteeism, and workplace conflicts can lead to disciplinary action or job loss. This further exacerbates the individuals’ and their family’s difficulties. Failing to maintain consistent performance can hinder professional growth, leading to missed opportunities for advancement and career stagnation.

Addressing the Impact

Open communication is vital for an encouraging, open, and non-judgmental space. Communication within families, friend circles, and workplaces can foster understanding and support. The impact of co-occurring disorders extends beyond the individual, affecting their support networks and professional life. Recognizing these challenges and implementing supportive measures can mitigate the adverse effects and promote a path toward recovery and stability.

Addressing the impact of co-occurring disorders on family, friends, and work requires a comprehensive approach through unique treatments and clear communication. Effective treatment plans need to address both a patient’s mental health and substance use disorders at the same time. These integrated treatment plans should also be tailored to the individual’s needs. Support systems through friends and family can be very educational and offer coping strategies that allow patients to become more trusting and open about their issues with those closest to them. Friends and family are often significant factors in a person’s life and workplace. Co-workers also occupy a lot of an individual’s time, so focusing on workplace accommodations through flexible work arrangements and access to employee assistance programs (EAPs) can help individuals manage their conditions while maintaining employment. Whether you are an employer of someone struggling with a co-occurring disorder or you yourself are struggling, it is important to recognize the importance of the workplace environment and learn how your work can help.


In conclusion, the effects of co-occurring disorders have a large effect on both relationships and career development. Co-occurring disorder refers to the condition in which an individual has both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder simultaneously. The issue brought on by this disorder has an impact on their family, friends, and workplace. Addressing the issues and helping someone through them can lead them to a better place and get them through the struggles offered by co-occurring disorders.