Peer Support in Co-Occurring Recovery

People who have substance use disorders as well mental health disorders are diagnosed as having co-occurring disorder, or dual disorders. This is also sometimes called dual diagnosis.

Mental Health and Substance use conditions often co-occur. In other words, individuals with substance use often have a mental health condition at the same time and vice versa. Approximately 9.2 million adults have co-occurring disorders; (1) that is they have both mental health and substance use challenges. Only 7.4 percent of individuals receive treatment for both conditions with 55.8 percent receiving no treatment at all.

At one time, treatment for drug or alcohol addiction was considered to be separate from treatment from mental health challenges, and care was delivered at different facilities using radically different therapeutic approaches. As a result, many people who suffered from depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder or other serious psychiatric conditions never received treatment for their substance use. By the same token, many drug rehab graduates with co-occurring disorders often never received adequate care for their underlying mental health concerns. Today, addiction specialists and mental health clinicians view co-occurring disorders treatment as a unique field in its own right.

The World Health Organization estimates that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental health disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.(2) Combining strategies from the fields of psychiatry and addiction treatment can lower the relapse rate among graduates, reduce the number of suicide attempts and foster long-term abstinence, according to research gathered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Integrated treatment works

Integrated treatment produces better outcomes for individuals with co-occurring  mental health and substance use challenges. Without integrated treatment, one or both disorders may not be addressed properly. Mental health and substance abuse authorities across the country are taking steps to integrate system and services, and promote integrated treatment of care.

Integrated treatment or treatment that addresses mental health and substance use conditions at the same time is associated with lower cost and better outcomes such as:

  • Reduced substance use
  • Improved psychiatric symptoms and functioning
  • Decreased hospitalization
  • Increased housing stability
  • Improved quality of life

(1) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012) Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug use and Health: Mental Health Findings NSDUH Series H-42 Publication No. (SMA) 11-4667) Rockville, Md.: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012.

(2) A product of NMH Communications. World Health Organization, Geneva,2001

Recovery is possible for every individual

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