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You Don’t Know the Half of it.
1 in 2 people with substance use issues also struggle with mental health challenges – this link is known as co-occurring disorders, or COD. This film was created by the harris project, inspired by the life and experiences of Harris Marquesano, his family, and many others.
Who We Are
the harris project is the only non-profit dedicated to the prevention and treatment of COD by providing opportunities to increase understanding, raise awareness, and transform the system of care to meet the needs of those with co-occurring disorders
Know the Signs of COD
Identifying signs that you or someone you love might have COD can be challenging because symptoms may overlap and vary depending on the mental health disorders and substances involved. There are some common warning signs to look for:
Impulsive, or engaging in risky behaviors.
Mood swings with extreme highs and lows, intense bursts of energy.
Difficulty focusing, finishing tasks, or making decisions. Frustrated easily.
Isolating, avoiding family and friends.
Suicidal thoughts, self-harming behaviors, or attempts.
Increased or secretive use of drugs and alcohol, asking to borrow money.
Loss of interest in school, hobbies and responsibilities.
Physical health issues, weight changes, neglect of hygiene or appearance.
A known history of substance use disorders or mental health disorders.
A family history of these disorders.
Stephanie Marquesano
Founder & President of the harris project.
What You Can Do
Educate yourself about co-occurring disorders. 
Supporting yourself or someone you believe has co-occurring disorders isn't easy. By learning how to work through the issue - you could save the life of a loved one, or even your own.
Initiate open and non-judgmental conversation
Express concern in a caring and non-confrontational way.
Avoid interrupting or offering unsolicited advice.
Listen actively. Let them share their thoughts and validate their feelings.
Share using “I” statements: “I’ve noticed that…” “I’m concerned when I see…”
Explore professional support options so that when ready, you’re aware of the appropriate resources.
Offer emotional support
Let them know you care and that you’re there for them.
Encourage them to express their emotions and concerns.
Avoid minimizing their experiences or telling them to “snap out of it.”
Stay engaged, with love, as long as it’s healthy for you.
Encourage self-care
Exercise, even if it’s just taking walks together or doing light yoga.
Eat healthily. Cook or order in your favorite meal.
Meditate, or journal about how you’re feeling.
Read a book, or go for a long walk in nature.
Turn off your phone for a bit, or do a digital detox.
Talk with someone you trust when you have difficult emotions or urges.

There is a difference between encouraging someone to speak to a professional who might be able to help and trying to force someone to change their behavior. Your role as a trusted friend or family member is to offer support, love and encouragement. Ultimately, the decision to seek treatment and make positive changes must come from the individual themselves. Be patient, and continue to express your care and concern, while taking good care of yourself. 

If you believe you might benefit from extra support, treat yourself with the same kindness as you would a friend, and consider speaking to a professional as well.

Where to Find Help
Come prepared to any discussion with a list of local resources. Below are resources for finding reputable, accredited and trusted professional support for those with COD.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides information, support, and referrals from trained professionals for individuals and families dealing with COD.
Visit SAMHSA Website
Partnership to End Addiction
Partnership to End Addiction is an organization providing safe, confidential connections to peer support specialists who help direct individuals to treatment and recovery centers based on their unique needs.
Visit Partnership to End Addiction Website
Encompass is a unique evidence-based, integrated treatment for adolescents and young adults with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health problems, developed by Dr. Paula Riggs and her clinical research team at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Visit Encompass Website
Once you’ve found a professional or support center you’d like to speak to, it’s important to advocate for yourself and ask questions to make sure you receive the individualized treatment you need. Review this printable PDF of questions and tips you can take with you when visiting a support or treatment professional.
Download the PDF
About the harris project
Harris Blake Marquesano was a real person who struggled with co-occurring disorders, death by accidental overdose at the age of 19. By that time, Harris had received treatment at four in-patient substance use rehabilitation programs, and two outpatient substance use rehabilitation programs. They all claimed they could treat both his mental health and substance use disorders together. They failed him. Stephanie, Harris’s mother, has made it her life mission to change the flawed system that isn’t built to support those with, or at risk of developing, co-occurring disorders. It's her goal to prevent the development of COD through the harris project's CODA (Co-Occurring Disorders Awareness) programming, ensure access to comprehensive, individualized treatment for COD, and support individuals in recovery.
Learn More
This poem was written by Harris to his little sister Jensyn while attending a treatment program, and was the inspiration for the two stars within the harris project logo.
Changing the Conversation
Our mission statement: the harris project supports the prevention of co-occurring disorders (COD) through our CODA (Co-Occurring Disorders Awareness) peer-led model, and the development and implementation of best treatment practices (including the building of a co-occurring system of care) to meet the complex needs of the individual. Learn more about the harris project and what we’re currently doing:
For press inquiries, please reach out via the contact information below.
Stephanie Marquesano
Founder & President
(914) 980 - 6112
Get Involved
Most traditional rehabilitation centers don’t adequately address mental health disorders that are often a contributing factor to substance misuse and addiction, and most mental health providers don't highlight the risks of substance misuse and/or addiction in those with existing or emerging mental health disorders.

It's our goal to integrate services so that the needs of the whole individual are met, by supporting:

  • Awareness of COD, because you can’t treat something you’ve never heard of, nor demand appropriate care without a foundation of knowledge 
  • CODA prevention to educate youth and their loved ones
  • Co-Occurring competent treatment, so that the comprehensive needs of the individual are addressed
  • Additional support for family and loved ones, moving away from shame and blame
  • Sustainable recovery, ensuring continuity of care, including housing, training, nutrition and more
Donations and volunteers are always accepted in service of reaching these goals. 
Donate Now