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Beyond co-occurring disorders to behavioral health integration

Larry Davidson (Professor of Psychology, based at Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA)
Arthur C. Evans (Commissioner, based at Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
Ijeoma Achara-Abrahams (Ijeoma Achara-Abrahams is a Consultant, based at Achara Consulting Inc., Chicago, Illinois, USA)
William White (Emeritus Senior Research Consultant, based at Chestnut Health Systems, Punta Gorda, Florida, USA)

Advances in Dual Diagnosis

ISSN: 1757-0972

Article publication date: 11 November 2014




Despite the high prevalence of co-occurring disorders and the need for systems of care to integrate mental health and addiction services, integration remains a challenge. The purpose of this paper is to address this challenge by focussing on shared processes of recovery.


After reviewing commonalities between mental health and substance use recovery, integration of treatment with recovery supports under the rubric of a “recovery-oriented system of care” is described. Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services is then used as an example to illustrate strategies for achieving two forms of integration: mental health and addiction and treatment and recovery supports.


Viewed through the lens of people with mental health and addiction challenges, the services and supports that promote recovery are very similar. One of the common themes that emerged was the need for these services to go beyond helping people manage their symptoms or achieve abstinence, to also helping them to rebuild their lives in their communities. In addition to co-location and increased collaboration, service providers must possess common values, a consistent approach, and a shared vision for the people they serve.

Practical implications

Systems need to find innovative and effective ways to integrate recovery support services with treatment and other interventions, hopefully transforming existing services in the process.


In the process of developing a truly integrated behavioral health system, a shared vision across all sectors of the system must shift away from the field's historical focus on illness and problems to a new focus on strengths and possibilities.



Davidson, L., C. Evans, A., Achara-Abrahams, I. and White, W. (2014), "Beyond co-occurring disorders to behavioral health integration", Advances in Dual Diagnosis, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 185-193.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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