Mental health and addiction problems often co-exist but are treated
separately — which can mean poor care and relapses for those struggling
with multiple disorders and result in excess strain on the health-care
system, according to a new report. The challenges associated with concurrent disorders — mental-health and substance-use disorders occurring simultaneously — are the focus of the report from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse released Friday.

More than half of those seeking help for an addiction also have a
mental illness and about 15 to 20 per cent of those using mental-health
services also have an addiction, research shows. In a study to be
released later this year, the CCSA hopes to have an estimate of how
many people in Canada have concurrent disorders.

Of all mental-health conditions, people with schizophrenia have the
highest rate of co-occurrence with an addiction, the CCSA said. They
are three times more likely to have an alcohol problem and six times
more likely to have a drug problem than those without a mental disorder.

Paying
greater attention to the shared characteristics of people with both a
mental-health problem and a substance-abuse problem should lead to
better identification, prevention and treatment strategies, the report
says.

"We need a unified national approach for the treatment and care of
those that are suffering from concurrent disorders and, for example,
integrated clinical practice guidelines." The report points out the economic advantage to improving co-ordination
between mental health and addiction health services, saying integrated
treatments are more efficient than separate parallel ones.

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