Substance use disorder and co-occurring mental illness discussed in latest Heads Up Dartmouth Health webinar

Heads Up graphic

Dartmouth Health has published the latest webinar in its series, Heads Up: A Year-Long Mental Health Awareness Journey. This month, expert panelists discuss the topic substance use disorder and co-occurring mental illness. The video can be viewed at the Dartmouth Health YouTube channel.

This segment features Julia R. Frew, MD, a psychiatrist certified in addiction medicine at Dartmouth Health and director of the Moms in Recovery program; Laurie K. Butz-Meyerrose, MS LCMHC, MLADC, ACS, interim director at The Doorway at Dartmouth Health's Cheshire Medical Center; and Annette Escalante, MSW, MLADC, senior vice president of Easterseals Farnum Center, a substance use treatment center which also serves as the extended Doorway for Manchester after hours, and former director of the New Hampshire Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services. Together, they discuss the relationship between mental illness and substance use disorder, how they are treated and how systems can be improved to help people and their loved ones struggling with these conditions.

Escalante said the current system is divided, partly because of the way federal grant funding for mental health and substance use disorder are allocated.

"If you are currently experiencing a [substance use disorder] incident and are looking for treatment but may also have a mental health condition, you're going to get treated for one or the other, especially if it's through residential treatment," Escalante said. "[The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services] is currently looking at being able to address both of these conditions at the same time, but the state of New Hampshire does not have a co-occurring disorder code under Medicaid, so you either have to treat one or the other."

The panelists also discussed the common impact of trauma and adverse childhood experiences on patients with substance use disorder, the way 211 and the statewide Doorway system works for people seeking treatment and ways the system can continue to improve.

In partnership with the New Hampshire Union Leader and Seacoast Media Group, the Heads Up series is a mental health awareness campaign that provides online resources, offers fresh perspectives and highlights community events on mental health-related topics.

To learn more about the Heads Up Series, resources on mental health or to view past newspaper feature articles and webinars, visit our Mental Health web page.

About Dartmouth Health

Dartmouth Health, New Hampshire's only academic health system and the state's largest private employer, serves patients across northern New England. Dartmouth Health provides access to more than 2,000 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH, as well as across its wide network of hospitals, clinics and care facilities. DHMC is consistently named the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in numerous clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth Health includes Dartmouth Cancer Center, one of only 56 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation, and the only such center in northern New England; Dartmouth Health Children’s, which includes Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, the state’s only children’s hospital, and multiple clinic locations around the region; member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene and New London, NH, and Bennington and Windsor, VT; Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and more than 24 clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. Through its historical partnership with Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth Health trains nearly 400 medical residents and fellows annually, and performs cutting-edge research and clinical trials recognized across the globe with Geisel and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT. Dartmouth Health and its more than 13,000 employees are deeply committed to serving the healthcare needs of everyone in our communities, and to providing each of our patients with exceptional, personal care.