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Health Reports, August 2017

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Released: 2017-08-16

Concurrent mental and substance use disorders in Canada

Individuals who have both a mental and substance use disorder at the same time are more likely to experience poor psychological health, use more health services and report unmet needs than a person with only one type of disorder.

These findings are from a new study on the prevalence of concurrent disorders in Canada, released in today's Health Reports. The study is the first to use the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey—Mental Health to examine the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, health status and health care service use of people with concurrent disorders. The study estimates that 282,000, or 1.2% of Canadians aged 15 to 64, experienced mental and substance use disorders concurrently in the previous year, that is, at least one mood/anxiety disorder and at least one substance use disorder.

Almost all (91%) of those with concurrent disorders reported high psychological distress, significantly more than those with a mood/anxiety (79%) or a substance use (34%) disorder alone.

Overall, individuals with concurrent disorders were more likely (76%) to use health services, such as care for mental health or substance use, compared with those who had a mood/anxiety (67%) or substance use (21%) disorder alone. Despite higher use, these individuals had greater odds of reporting unmet or partially met needs for mental health care after controlling for demographic and socio-economic factors and number of chronic conditions.

  Note to readers

The data are from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey―Mental Health, which collected information on the prevalence of selected mental health and substance use disorders. The analysis pertains to household residents aged 15 to 64 who had a mood/anxiety disorder and/or a substance use disorder in the past 12 months. The mood/anxiety disorders examined in this study were major depressive episode, bipolar I/bipolar II disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. The substance use disorders were alcohol, cannabis, and other drug abuse or dependence.


"Concurrent mental and substance use disorders in Canada" is now available in the August 2017 online issue of Health Reports, Vol. 28, no. 8 (Catalogue number82-003-X).

This issue of Health Reports also contains the article, "Needs for mobility devices, home modifications and personal assistance among Canadians with disabilities."

Contact information

To enquire about "Concurrent mental and substance use disorders in Canada," contact Saeeda Khan (, Health Analysis Division.

To enquire about "Needs for mobility devices, home modifications and personal assistance among Canadians with disabilities," contact Edward M. Giesbrecht (ed.giesbrecht@umanitoba), University of Manitoba.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

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