MONTREAL, Nov. 20, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - During National Addictions
Awareness Week, which runs from November 18 to 24, Portage is seeking
to raise awareness about the co-occurrence of mental health problems
and substance abuse, a problem that has grown on a worldwide scale by
38% between 1990 and 20101. On a national scale, the cost related to this issue in terms of loss
of productivity is estimated at approximately $33 billion per year2.
Though 50% of people who abuse drugs also suffer from mental health
problems, all too often they are treated for only one of these issues
at a time. In Canada, more than 35% of psychiatric inpatients between
the ages of 15 to 653 suffer from both mental health problems and addiction. Not only is
their stay 19% longer than the average, but these patients are 25% more
likely to be readmitted to the hospital within one year of discharge.
"Caring for these vulnerable people, who are suffering tremendously, is
very difficult. The high rate of recurrence is straining the healthcare
system, which is not entirely equipped to offer the necessary services
to this population," states psychiatrist, researcher and director of
the Unité de psychiatrie des toxicomanie at the MUHC,
Dr. Didier Jutras-Aswad. "These patients have very complex needs, which
is why it's so important to provide them with integrated services that
can address both issues at the same time."
The high rate of recurrence is straining the healthcare system, which is
not entirely equipped to offer the necessary services to this
population," states psychiatrist, researcher, and director of the Unité de psychiatrie des toxicomanies at the MUHC, Dr. Didier Jutras-Aswad. "These patients have very complex
needs, which is why it's so important to provide them with integrated
services that can address both issues at the same time."
Since 1995, Portage's Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers (MICA) Program has been doing just that. Previously supported by the
private sector and now by the Government of Québec, this residential
drug rehabilitation program helps men suffering from both mental
illness (primarily schizophrenia) and substance abuse, treating the two
disorders as well as their interaction.
Every year, Portage's MICA program helps sixty men overcome their drug
addiction issues and learn how to manage their mental illness, so that
they can reintegrate back into society as productive citizens.
"The need for this type of treatment is steadily increasing and given
the financial impact of this clientele on the healthcare system,
funding for programs such as ours is critical," states Antonio Maturo,
Director of Portage's MICA Program. "The costs of treatment are minor
compared to those generated by multiple visits to the emergency room
when these people are in crisis."
To create more awareness among government officials, a delegation of
Portage staff members and residents are meeting with 13 Québec MNA's
from different political parties today.
Portage is an accredited non-profit organisation that has been helping
people overcome their substance abuse issues and reintegrate back into
society since 1973. Portage operates drug addiction rehabilitation
treatment centres in Québec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and British
Columbia, providing a variety of services tailored to the needs of its
specific clienteles: adults, adolescents, mothers with young children
and pregnant women, and people suffering from both drug addiction and
For more information, visit www.portage.ca.
1 The Lancet, Volume 382, Issue 9904, pp. 1575-1586, November 9, 2013.
"Global burden of disease attributable to mental and substance use
disorders: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010"
2 Martin Shain et. al., Mental Health and Substance Use at Work:
Perspective from Research and Implications for Leaders, working paper
prepared for the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction
and Mental Health, November 14, 2002 (unpublished).
3 Canadian Institute for Health Information - Hospital Mental Health
Services for Concurrent Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders in
Canada, updated May 2013.
For further information:
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