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Co-existing mental health + substance use disorders

Learn About Co-existing Problems

A co-existing problem occurs when we have a mental health problem and, at the same time, use substances in ways that could result in significant harm. It is not known how many people experience this dual problem (sometimes called a 'concurrent disorder'). But a national study in the United States, looking at mental illness alongside substance use in a lifetime, suggests about half of the people experiencing a mental illness also struggle with a substance use problem, and vice versa.

Life on an Island Doesn’t Have to Mean Isolation

William thought that moving to Salt Spring Island from Vancouver would help him deal with alcohol and cocaine use, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder, but it took a lot of work to get on a path to recovery. David, co-chair of the Salt Spring Health Advancement Network, says that this is a common experience. While small communities have similar mental health needs as people in urban centres, services are not always available. Identifying needs, bringing people together, and collaboration between service providers is helping the island build a healthier community.

Treatments: What Works?

It seems like everyone has an opinion when it comes to treatments for mental health or substance use problems. To add to the confusion, it isn’t always obvious who is basing their opinions on real evidence and who is not. And while we often hear people talk about evidence-based treatments, it’s also clear that complementary and alternative medicine approaches are helpful for some.

Stay Connected

Sign up for our various e-newsletters featuring mental health and substance use resources.

  • eVisions: BC's Mental Health and Substance Use Journal, a theme-based magazine
  • Healthy Minds/Healthy Campuses events and resources
  • Within Reach: Resources from HeretoHelp
  • Jessie's Legacy eating disorders prevention resources, events and information

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