What is it about?

Most men undergoing psychiatric assessment for the courts qualified for a joint diagnosis of metal illness and substance use disorders. But diagnoses were missed in two thirds of cases, even though the information was available in their medical files.

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Why is it important?

Substance use contributes to criminal offending. Failure to diagnose means these men may not be flagged for the treatment they need to reduce their substance use and related criminal offending.


A diagnosis is often the first step to getting needed treatment. There are good treatments for substance use disorders, and evidence shows that they can and should be treated alongside treatment for other mental illnesses. But clinicians tend to focus in on major mental illnesses like psychosis or bipolar disorder. This article shows how big an effect that focus has. I hope this article will inspire clinicians to take a more complete approach to diagnosis, and give our forensic patients the best chance of recovery.

Dr N Zoe Hilton
University of Toronto

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders in Canadian Forensic Inpatients: Underdiagnosis and Implications for Treatment Planning, International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, April 2018, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/14999013.2018.1451416.
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