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National rates of co-occurring substance use and mental disorders call for better service integration
Date:12/17/2008

Canadians are becoming aware of the prevalence of mental health issues and of substance use problems, but how well equipped are we to help the many people who contend with both?

Two studies published in the December issue of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry have found that multilevel integration is needed for mental health and substance use services to adequately address the needs of people diagnosed with co-occurring disorders. Both studies explored the prevalence of concurrent disorders, first at the provincial level among people served by the community mental health system, and then at the national level among the general population. This new research highlights the need for system-wide planning and improved integration of the mental health and addictions systems.

In the study titled, Prevalence and Profile of People with Co-occurring Mental and Substance Use Disorders Within a Comprehensive Mental Health System, Dr. Brian Rush, Senior Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Principal Investigator on both studies found that mental health and substance use disorders co-occur in approximately 20 percent - or one in five of people treated for mental disorders in Ontario's hospitals and mental health clinics.

"We found that co-occurring disorders were highest in selected sub-groups, for example, among younger adults (55%), people receiving specialty inpatient care (28%), and those with personality disorders (34%). It is important that risk management strategies be included in treatment and support models for clients," says Dr. Rush. "We also found that across all levels of care, having a co-occurring disorder was strongly associated with antisocial and challenging behaviour, legal involvement, and risk of suicide or self-harm."

In the second study, Prevalence of Co-occurring Substance Use and Other Mental Disorders in the Canadian Population, which looked at concurrent disorders at the
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Contact: Michael Torres
michael_torres@camh.net
416-595-6015
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Source:Eurekalert

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