From the Introduction to Treating Concurrent Disorders: A Guide for Counsellors (©2005 CAMH)
The study of co-occurring substance use and mental health problems, or concurrent disorders, has emerged as a dynamic space, where knowledge and practice are constantly evolving. This sets the stage for lively debates among researchers, the community of professionals who work in addiction, mental health and concurrent disorders, as well as people who are affected by concurrent disorders: clients and their families. Although concurrent disorders—variously known as dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorders or dual disorders—as a discipline is just over two decades old, many clinicians have been attempting for much longer to provide comprehensive care for clients who have substance use and mental health problems.
Over the past 20 years, researchers and clinicians have worked to find common ground between the substance use and mental health systems, each of which had developed strong traditions and treatment approaches, usually funded and operated quite separately from one another. The earliest evidence-based work in the area of co-occurring substance use and mental health problems focused on people with severe mental health disorders. We now recognize that the topic of concurrent disorders encompasses a full range of co-occurring substance use and mental health problems.
Identifying, assessing and treating concurrent disorders: The client-counsellor relationship