The Gap: Addressing Both Mental Health Issues and SUDs


Nothing is Treated in Isolation

Decades of research have substantially documented that clients with SUDs also suffer with at least one separate diagnosable co-occurring issue, which can include but is not limited to Anxiety Disorders including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression and other Mood Disorders, and Personality Disorders [18][19][20]. Studies maintain that the presence of more than one psychological issue significantly impairs the accuracy of assessment, treatment planning, and the implementation of interventions aimed at addressing either issue [21]. It can be inferred that complete abstinence from alcohol or other drugs would be extremely difficult if the client has both an SUD and co-occurring issue such as OCD.  One could say that having the expectation of a positive outcome could be unreasonable for the person seeking help or the mandated client [22][23].

Change is Difficult

Even with considerable evidence, organizations and individual providers still practice the belief that addictions and co-occurring issues should be treated separately, despite what they say and advertise [24][25]. In the US, this belief has historically been the case, but is seriously limiting and marginalizing [26][27]. Another historical belief which promoted the separation of SUDs and mental health is the stigmatizing perceptions and attributions regarding a person with SUDs. These include viewing a person’s issues through a medical lens, something involving the body or a “disease,” a product of race, socio-economic status, or environment, a moral failing, personal defect or character flaw, weakness, while mental health issues seem to be regarded by many as unrelated to SUDs, as they in many ways are still considered products of the mind [28][29].