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Medical News & Perspectives |

Integrated Care Key for Patients With Both Addiction and Mental Illness

Bridget M. Kuehn
JAMA. 2010;303(19):1905-1907. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.597.
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Despite a growing body of evidence that integrated care is important in treating individuals with addiction and comorbid psychiatric disorders, such care remains in short supply. But efforts by scientists and policy makers aim to improve access to such treatment.

Substance abuse disorders often occur in patients with other psychiatric illnesses, yet few such individuals receive treatment for their conditions despite the serious health and other consequences that often result. An estimated 17.5 million adults had a serious mental illness in 2002 based on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (previously called the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse), a nationally representative survey of more than 68 000 US individuals. About 4 million (23%) were also dependent on or abusing alcohol or illicit drugs (http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k4/coOccurring/coOccurring.htm). But more than half of these individuals received no treatment for either condition, about one-third received treatment only for their mental illness, 2% received only specialty substance abuse treatment, and just 12% received care for both conditions.

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Comorbid addiction and mental illness may be the result of overlapping brain circuits or common genetic and environmental factors.

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