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Aust Health Rev. 2001;24(4):188-96.

Concurrent opioid dependence and mental health problems: a review of the issues for general practice.

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Department of Public Health, Flinders University.


The literature is reviewed on the issue of concurrent opioid dependence and mental health problems within the general practice setting. People with such problems have poorer personal, clinical and social outcomes than people with either mental health or drug and alcohol (D&A) problems alone. Mental health and drug services operate from different policy systems and are generally not co-ordinated with each other, leaving the onus on the patient to move effectively through health systems. The common statement that GPs are ideal health professionals to manage concurrent problems is contrasted with the evident barriers in general practice such as lack of time, knowledge, skills and confidence. Models for managing concurrent problems tend towards shared care. However, these models either have received mixed evidence (e.g. consultant-liaison psychiatry) or are amenable to development but remain untested (e.g. co-ordinated care, community health centre programs). The Enhanced Primary Care items introduced in 1999/2000 may provide an incentive for GPs to participate in shared care arrangements with other health professionals. However, there is a need for mechanisms to increase the links between GPs and other health services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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