A concurrent disorder is the combination of both a mental health problem and a substance dependence or abuse problem. The prevalence of concurrent disorders among people with serious mental illness is higher than most people realize, and it can significantly impact symptoms and treatment.
Recent studies have shown that about half of all people with schizophrenia also have problems with drugs and alcohol, and up to 90% of people with schizophrenia are addicted to nicotine.
Even though it is so common, many people with schizophrenia and substance abuse issues have fallen through the cracks of the health care system. Mental health services may refuse treatment and services to a person with an active drug or alcohol addiction, and addiction professionals often believe that a person cannot recover from problem substance use until their mental disorder is treated . This has resulted in people with concurrent schizophrenia and substance use problems being bounced back and forth between mental health and addictions services, sometimes being refused treatment by either system. There is, however, a growing recognition among professionals and health care organizations of the problem of concurrent disorders, and more and more concurrent disorders services are becoming available.
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