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Both AOD and mental health conditions are stigmatised conditions, and it is vital that any communication regarding clients experiencing possible mental disorders – whether that communication involves the client, loved ones or other healthcare providers – remains respectful, non-judgemental, compassionate and client-centred. The language used throughout this document reflects that used in the diagnostic classification systems to provide workers with the functional knowledge to identify conditions and facilitate communication with other areas of health (e.g., mental health services). We acknowledge that, while some people experience formal acknowledgement of their mental health symptoms through diagnostic labelling as a way of legitimising and explaining their ongoing distress, this is not the case for everyone; others may perceive diagnostic labelling as stigmatising, and feel a sense of powerlessness [12]. The language AOD workers use to describe symptoms and disorders should be based on the needs of the client, but as detailed in Chapter B3, formal diagnoses can only be given by a health professional who is qualified and trained to do so (e.g., a registered psychologist or psychiatrist).

We also acknowledge that over time, preferences regarding the terms used to refer to the co-occurrence of AOD and mental health conditions have evolved. While these Guidelines continue to be referred to as the ‘Comorbidity Guidelines’, the term ‘comorbidity’ as a reference to co-occurring AOD and mental health conditions, has not been used in the third edition. Rather, based on consultations with experts and key stakeholders, the terms ‘co-occurring conditions’ or ‘co-occurring AOD and mental health conditions’ have been used throughout this document. There has been a similar evolution in terms of language used to describe different population groups. While we have used particular language throughout this document, we acknowledge there is no all-inclusive term and not everyone will identify with the language used in these Guidelines. Our intention in utilising particular terminology is to describe the evidence regarding co-occurring conditions.

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