Many people may have either a mental disorder or a drug habit, but when these conditions co-occur it further complicates the person’s health. Having one condition also increases the chances of having the other. In fact, “Research has found that having comorbid substance use and mental health disorders worsens the path and prognosis for each disorder” (S. Rosenberg, & J. Rosenberg, 2018, p. 243). Those with debilitating mental illness are more inclined to receive prescription medication. Unfortunately, they can become oversubscribed, abuse their medication, or become addicted.
Society can be less than supportive of those afflicted. In fact, “Those with co-occuring disorders have been discriminated against…often dehumanized and socially isolated within their communities” (S. Rosenberg, & J. Rosenberg, 2018, p. 245). This includes the significant numbers of mentally ill/and/or substance abusers who become incarcerated. To support this population effectively requires a social justice perspective. One that reduces stigma and opens doors to equitable resources. An ideal and comprehensive system of care should include the following:
· Individualized treatment that recognizes the various levels/severity of addiction and mental illness (Quadrant Model, ed. 3, p. 250).
· Integrated care that treats co-occuring conditions together.
· Family and community support that includes access to stable housing, food, and medications.
· Adequate resources and educational programs that fund treatment, provide preventative- programs in schools, and access to counseling across all socioeconomic and institutional levels.
Helping those with comorbid conditions benefits the individual, their families, and society at large. It requires well-educated and professional care. Mental health workers must recognize and adapt treatment for comorbid disorders. Those suffering from multifaceted problems should receive respectful, appropriate, and confidential care. Treatment can incorporate detoxification, client-centered, motivational, and family-centered systems. It is a whole-systems and integrative approach. One that begins with youth, and provides the tools and support they need to cope with life’s struggles as they mature.