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Rural Health Information Hub

Considerations for People with Comorbid Conditions

People with comorbid conditions experience two or more illnesses or disorders at the same time. Research shows a high prevalence of comorbidities among those with substance use disorders (SUDs) and other conditions. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 7.7 million adults experience co-occurring SUDs and mental health disorders and over half do not receive the mental health or substance use treatment they need. Co-occurring mental and physical health conditions may influence an individual's risk factors for substance misuse and their ability to seek treatment and maintain stable recovery. Rural SUD prevention and treatment programs may consider implementing holistic approaches that address comorbid conditions, or partnering with organizations that can offer additional support.

Substance misuse can lead to risky sexual behavior, or needle sharing for people who inject drugs, which increases the likelihood of contracting certain infections, including HIV and viral hepatitis. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in Western countries, hepatitis C is most commonly spread through injection drug use. People living in rural areas who inject drugs experience a variety of barriers to accessing HIV and hepatitis C testing. Rural SUD treatment programs may consider screening for HIV and hepatitis C and connecting patients to specialty care. The Rural HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment Toolkit offers additional information.

Resources to Learn More

Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment
Provides information on the evidence-based Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment (IDDT) model that combines severe mental health services with SUD services for people living with comorbid conditions.
Organization: Case Western Reserve University, Center for Evidence-Based Practices