Authors: Lexine Stapinski
Event: 2015 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Award Recipients - Early Career Researchers
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Comorbidity (the co-occurrence of two or more disorders) is one of the greatest challenges in mental health. Anxiety and substance use disorders are common and debilitating disorders, and frequently go together. When these problems do co-occur, they tend to be more severe, less responsive to standard treatments, and have a greater impact on quality of life than either disorder alone.
This talk will begin by describing a program of work aimed at understanding the interconnection between anxiety and substance use, and improving access across Australia to evidence-based resources that prevent uptake and escalation of substance use among young people1. To complement these prevention efforts, there is a critical need for effective treatments for people with comorbid anxiety and substance use disorders. I will describe the development and evaluation of an innovative CBT-based treatment to target co-occurring social anxiety and alcohol use disorders, and the interconnection between them2. A randomised controlled trial (involving 117 people) showed that this integrated approach effectively treats both disorders and improves quality of life compared to standard treatment3. These innovative prevention and treatment strategies have the potential to significantly improve standard of care and reduce burden by interrupting the vicious cycle of anxiety and substance use.