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Concurrent Disorders

Someone who suffers from both a mental health illness and an addiction (whether substance or activity) is considered to have a concurrent disorder. For example, someone suffering from both schizophrenia and an opioid addiction, someone with clinical depression and alcoholism, or someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder and an addiction to gambling would all be considered to have a concurrent disorder.

Concurrent disorders cause unique problems in diagnosing and treating. The symptoms of one problem can mask, mimic or exacerbate the symptoms of the other.[1] For example, the depression and manic states of bipolar disorder may appear similar to the effects of alcohol abuse and vice versa.

Quick facts:

  • Due to the variety of mental health issues and how they combine with various addictions, there is no one catch-all treatment.
  • Each year in Canada, one in five people suffer from a mental health problem or illness.[2] These can be temporary (such as postpartum depression) or long-term (such as borderline personality disorder).
  • People with a mental illness have much higher rates than those without.
  • A study in Edmonton, Alberta found roughly a third of those with a mental illness also suffered from a substance addiction.[3]
  • The same study showed that almost a third of those with alcohol addiction also suffered from a mental illness and almost half of substance users suffered from mental illness.[4]

Recognizing

The symptoms and signs for a concurrent disorder are different from person to person, depending on the particular addiction and mental health issue.

ASYR Concurrent Disorders Program

Effective treatment for this population calls for a unified approach addressing the mental illness, the substance use/activity and their interconnectedness. The mandate of the Concurrent Disorders Program is to provide assessment, treatment, referral and aftercare to people with both a serious mental illness and an addiction.

Service is provided by means of individual counseling, groups and family consultation.

The intention of the program is to provide clients with education on how their mental illness and substance use/addiction impact each other. We aim to provide skills training on changing your substance use/addiction and managing symptoms of mental illness.

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