Co-occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders
Mental illness and substance use disorders commonly occur together, affecting an estimated 4 million adults, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center’s 2002 estimate.
Substance use disorders and mental illness are more prevalent among Medicaid beneficiaries, with diagnosis rates 50 to 100 percent higher than the general public. These individuals also tend to experience more severe symptoms and are less likely to seek out routine care for either condition. This has significant public health policy implications.
Researchers from the UMass Medical School's Center for Health Policy and Research and Dartmouth Medical School reviewed diagnosis and treatment data for Medicaid beneficiaries in five states. They found patients with both conditions were more likely to turn to hospital-based services for psychiatric or substance abuse treatment, bypassing more cost-effective community-based options.
The findings suggested that Medicaid policies focusing primarily on community-based treatment were missing a large portion of the population. The authors suggested Medicaid should adopt a no wrong door policy, helping beneficiaries receive treatment for both substance abuse and mental disorders, regardless of where they enter the system.
Recent reports published on Buprenorphine:
Clark, R., & Baxter, J. (2009). Overview of buprenorphine treatment for opioid addiction. Buprenorphine Knowledge Assets, Web site created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Substance Abuse Policy Research Program.