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Diverse Teens

What is a Co-occurring Disorder? (COD)

A co-occurring disorder occurs when an individual has both a primary mental illness and a primary substance use disorder. The term "primary" indicates that the person has a stand alone diagnosis that is present regardless of whether they have another disorder. Because COD is more complex than mental illness or substance abuse alone, effective treatment involves responding to these mutually interacting disorders

  • At the same time
  • In an integrated way.

An individual with COD is best served by a single clinician or program so that both the mental illness and the substance use disorder can be treated together.

COD and Criminal Justice System Involvement

Because of its complex nature, many people suffering from COD become involved in the criminal justice system. For more information on COD and justice system involvement, see the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services' National GAINS Center.

What COD services are available in King County?

Outpatient COD Treatment

In King County, many of our community mental health providers include COD treatment as part of the regular menu of treatment options. If you are currently enrolled in outpatient services, ask your provider about COD services.

In addition, the Mental Health, Chemical Abuse and Dependency Services Division provides funding for several specialized programs for individuals suffering from co-occurring disorders who are also involved in the criminal justice system. These programs provided by Community Psychiatric Clinic and Sound Mental Health, are available to individuals through a referral process if they are involved in a Specialty Court (Mental Health Court or Drug Court) or if they are being released from a King County Jail facility or a city jail. These programs provide 12 months of outpatient COD treatment services combined with transitional housing.

Inpatient COD Treatment

A 16-bed inpatient treatment program is available for individuals involved in a Specialty Court or in a King County Jail. The Co-Occurring Disorders Program (CORP) is a combined effort of King County and Pierce County. This limited resource provides a residential treatment program for 90 days for individuals suffering from COD who require inpatient treatment before returning to the community. Access to services is through a referral process and services are provided by Pioneer Human Services.

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