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

national level, Dr. Rush found that almost two per cent of Canadiansor 435,000 adultshave both a mental and a substance use disorder. About 20% of people with a mental disorder had a co-occurring substance use problem. The findings underscore the need for cooperation between mental health and substance use services at the provincial, territorial, and national levels.

The first to measure the national prevalence of the co-occurrence of certain psychiatric disorders and substance use problems in Canada, the study found that, relative to national estimates, the rate of co-occurring disorders was found to be highest in British Columbia and lowest in Quebec.

The data places Canadian rates at the lower end of the international range. However, Dr. Rush notes that the problem may be much larger than the numbers indicate as several types of mental disorders and certain populations known to be at high risk for co-occurring disordershomeless, institutionalized, and Aboriginal people, for examplewere not included in Statistics Canada's 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health and Well-Being, on which the authors based their analysis.

The populations affected by co-occurring disorders are diverse, and each person has a unique diagnostic profile and unique strengths and needs, speaking to the importance of different models of integrated services and support. The research concludes that a targeted response to more integrated services is needed, including working with hospital and community-based services, and with a focus on integrated training.

"Identifying individuals who need help with both problems is the first step in providing tailored mental health treatment and support programs," says Dr. Rush. "One of the issues is that clinicians specialized in either addiction or mental health may not be able to recognize the co-occurring disorder(s) and the client will not get a proper diagnosis and treatment and support plan."

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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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