Co-Occurring Disorders: An Overview for Paraprofessionals

Co-Occurring Disorders: An Overview for Paraprofessionals 

The coexistence of mental illness and substance use disorder is known as a co-occurring disorder. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 8.4 million adults in the United States suffer from these disorders (SAMHSA, 2014). As a direct support professional, you may have the opportunity to work with persons who have co-occurring disorders. As such, this course is designed to provide basic information to help inform your daily work with the people you serve and to help you better understand the needs of this target population. You will gain knowledge about the most common risk and protective factors associated with co-occurring disorders, along with best practices. Practice exercises through interactive vignettes will help you to apply your new skills when you need it most in your own setting. DSM™ and DSM-5™ are registered trademarks of the American Psychiatric Association. The American Psychiatric Association is not affiliated with nor endorses this course.


Hours: 1.25


Certificates provided by accrediting body (0 Match)

Course Details

Course Code: REL-HHS-0-COODP
Hours: 1.25
Type: Online Course
Content Expiration Date: 6/30/2023
Learning Objectives:
Define co-occurring disorders and describe their behavioral components.
Identify common risk factors and protective factors involved in the treatment of co-occurring disorders.
Apply knowledge of the integrated treatment method for working with people who have co-occurring disorders.
Discuss the concept of recovery as it is understood in helping persons with co-occurring disorders.

Section 1: Introduction A. About This Course B. Learning Objectives Section 2: The Basics A. Meet Amy B. Definition: Understanding Co-Occurring Disorders C. A Working Definition D. Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders E. Abuse and Dependence F. Substance Use Disorders G. Meet Ahote H. Summary Section 3: Risk and Protective Factors A. Why Are Co-Occurring Disorders Common? B. Which Disorder Is Worse? C. More about Ahote D. Risk Factors E. Protective Factors F. What Does This Information Mean for DSPs? G. Review H. Summary Section 4: Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders A. Complexity of Treatment B. Standalone Treatment vs. Multi-modal Methods C. Review D. Medications in the Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders E. Treatment Strategies F. Integrated Treatment G. Which Treatment Is Best? H. Let's Practice! I. Motivational Interviewing J. The Stages of Change Model K. Toward Rehabilitation and Recovery L. Defining Recovery M. Ahote’s Outcome N. Summary Section 5: Conclusion A. Summary B. Course Contributors C. Resources D. References E. Congratulations! F. Exam

Instructor: Naju Madra, M.A.

Naju Madra, M.A. is an internal subject matter expert and clinical content writer for Relias' Behavioral Healthcare library. She earned her Master's degree in Psychology with specific study in neuropsychological assessment for children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. She brings with her a wealth of experience in clinical assessment, along with expertise in large-scale clinical research project management, recruitment, training, as well as in-person and web-based curriculum development.

In addition to scholarly activities such as writing manuals and preparing manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals, Ms. Madra has over 15 years of behavioral healthcare experience ranging from crisis counseling and job coaching for individuals with severe mental illness and co-occurring disorders, to community college instruction, and trauma specialist at the Veterans Health Administration. In her current role, Ms. Madra has contributed authorship to over 100 behavioral healthcare course offerings for both licensed and non-licensed professionals in the Health & Human Services market.

Disclosure: Naju Madra, M.A. has declared that no conflict of interest, Relevant Financial Relationship or Relevant Non-Financial Relationship exists.
Expert Reviewer: Jeremy King, LCSW, CASAC
Jeremy King has over ten years of experience providing management and training to professionals in the field of behavioral health. Mr. King is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor in the state of New York. He also holds a BS in Economics from Fordham University and is a Certified Training Provider for the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. For the past ten years, Mr. King has provided training and technical assistance to human service organizations in the following areas: Substance Use Disorders; Trauma Informed Services; Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; Cultural Competence; Group Facilitation Skills; CCAR Recovery Coach Academy; Motivational Interviewing; Tobacco Dependence; Confidentiality; Working through Resistance; Screening and Assessment for Mental Health Disorders; Theories of Human Development; and The Client/Counselor Relationship. Disclosure: Jeremy King, LCSW, CASAC has declared that no conflict of interest, Relevant Financial Relationship or Relevant Non-Financial Relationship exists.
Target Audience:
The target audience for this course is: Entry, Intermediate level Direct Support Professionals; in the following settings: Health and Human Services.
Relias will be transparent in disclosing if any commercial support, sponsorship or co-providership is present prior to the learner completing the course.
Course Delivery Method and Format
Asynchronous/Online Distance Learning; please see certificate details for specifics on delivery format.
Relias has a grievance policy in place to facilitate reports of dissatisfaction. Relias will make every effort to resolve each grievance in a mutually satisfactory manner. In order to report a complaint or grievance please contact Relias.
If you require special accommodations to complete this module, please contact Relias Support by completing the web form ( or by using the chat functionality.
All courses offered by Relias, LLC are developed from a foundation of diversity, inclusiveness, and a multicultural perspective. Knowledge, values and awareness related to cultural competency are infused throughout the course content.
Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, service mark, manufacturer or otherwise does not constitute or imply any endorsement, recommendation, or favoring of, or affiliation with, Relias, LLC.
All characteristics and organizations referenced in the following training are fictional. Any resemblance to any actual organizations or persons living or dead, is purely coincidental.
To earn continuing education credit for this course you must achieve a passing score of 80% on the post-test and complete the course evaluation.
If you require special accommodations to complete this module, please contact Relias Customer Support here.