Integrated Substance Use and Mental Health Treatment for Adolescents: Aligning Organizational and Financial Incentives
The high prevalence of the dual diagnosis of mental and substance use disorders (SUD) has been increasingly documented for both adolescents and adults (Crowley and Riggs 1995; Kandel et al. 1999; Whitmore et al. 1997). For more than a decade, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has included integrated treatment of comorbid psychiatric disorders as one of nine core treatment principles (National Institute on Drug Abuse 1999). Despite empirically supported practice guidelines, implementation of integrated treatment has been slow (New Freedom Commission on Mental Health 2003; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1999). In response to the growing call for integrated treatments and systems of care, this paper: (1) identifies systemic and economic barriers that have impeded widespread implementation of integrated care for adolescents with co-occurring SUD, specifically the supply of treatment providers, shifting priorities of gatekeepers to specialty care, and financing streams; and (2) describes possibilities for aligning economic incentives in order to facilitate the dissemination and implementation of integrated care for adolescents with co-occurring SUD.
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