Substance Abuse with Mental Disorders

Specialized Public Systems and Integrated Care

Published In: Health Affairs, v. 25, no. 1, May/June 2006, p. 648-658

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by M. Audrey Burnam, Katherine E. Watkins

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Separate public financing and regulation of substance (SA) abuse treatment distinct from mental health (MH) treatment preserves a focus on the special needs of those with substance abuse but creates challenges to providing appropriate care for the large number of people with co-occurring conditions. This paper reviews recent efforts to overcome these challenges through clinical and systems approaches that better integrate care. Although much progress has been made for some subgroups of people with co-occurring disorders, further efforts to develop and sustain clinically integrated service delivery approaches within separate systems, particularly in SA treatment settings, are needed.

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