PhD Symposium Session 2.0: Addiction and mental health comorbidities
By Thomas Swanton (University of Sydney, Australia)
This session drew attention to the compounding issues of addiction and comorbid mental health problems among several high-risk populations. Patsy Irizar from the University of Liverpool (UK) presented findings from a study of over 40,000 UK police employees – the largest cohort study of police worldwide – on harmful alcohol use to cope with work-related stress and co-occurring mental health problems. The study represents the first nationally representative prevalence study of this population, and underlines the need for greater education and integrated support for police officers to keep their drinking within safe levels.
Next, Sneha Goyal from India’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences highlighted the lack of adequate treatment of adult ADHD, an often-misdiagnosed disorder that can underlie substance use problems. Adoption of a transdiagnostic approach is recommended, treating ADHD as a vulnerability factor and focusing on social skills and affect regulation training for effective treatment.
Finally, Rachel Lees from the University of Bath (UK) presented findings from her review of psychosocial and pharmacological treatments for cannabis use disorder. Targeted psychosocial interventions appear to be most promising for patients with comorbidities; however, work is needed to reduce stigma and improve help-seeking rates, especially as availability of the drug increases globally.
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