Newsbrief: SAMHSA Says Treat Drug Abusers' Mental Illness 12/13/02

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In a report sent to Congress this week, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) found that mental illness is common among alcoholics and drug abusers, but that such "dual diagnosis" persons rarely receive treatment for both at the same time. For the government to get the most value from its treatment programs, SAMSHA found, it must break down the "firewall" between treatment for addiction and treatment for mental disorders.

According to the report, about one-third of drug and/or alcohol abusers also suffer from mental illness. Persons with mental illness are three times more likely to be substance abusers, SAMHSA found, with an estimated 7 to 10 million persons fitting the "dual diagnosis" criteria.

In the report, SAMSHA announced that it would take several steps to integrate mental health and drug treatment for those who need it. Those include federal financial incentives for states to enact integrated programs, incentives to combine therapy with medication in long-term treatment programs, a "tool kit" to help local agencies replicate successful programs, and a "national summit" sponsored by SAMHSA next year for treatment and criminal justice professionals and consumer advocates.

Visit http://www.samhsa.gov/news/cl_congress2002.html to read SAMHSA's "Report to Congress on the Treatment and Prevention of Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Disorders."

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