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Supporting Children of Parents with Co-occurring Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

August 10, 2012 Comments off

Supporting Children of Parents with Co-occurring Mental Illness and Substance Abuse (PDF)
Source: National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (University of California-Berkeley)

For nearly a decade, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has been advocating for integrated treatment of co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders, with the understanding that those who struggle with both addiction and mental illness face complex life stressors and unique barriers to treatment (1). Up to 50% of substance abusers are suffering from PTSD, and some reports show that up to 90% have a depressive or anxiety disorder of some form (2, 3). Integrating the treatment for these two types of disorders is recognition that the whole of a person is more than the sum of his or her parts. It’s not enough to merely treat the substance abuse, and then send the individual for counseling (or vice versa). Instead, treatment should be holistic, and respond to the whole person’s needs. What is commonly left out of the equation, however, is that according to the National Prevalence Data, over two-thirds of women with co-occurring disorders are mothers (4). While integrated treatment may respond holistically to the clinical diagnoses of the client, it rarely attends to the needs of the client as a mother, the needs of the family system or more specifically, to the needs of the children.

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