In 2007, the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing funded the development of the first edition of the ‘Guidelines on the management of co-occurring alcohol and other drug and mental health conditions in alcohol and other drug treatment settings’ (the Guidelines) . The development of these Guidelines was funded as part of the National Comorbidity Initiative in order to improve the capacity of AOD workers to respond to co-occurring mental health conditions. Building on the success of the first edition , the Australian Government Department of Health funded the update and revision of these Guidelines to bring them up to date with the most current evidence, and these were published in 2016 . Funding for the development of an accompanying online training program was also provided and was launched in 2017. Since their publication in 2016, more than 23,500 hard and electronic copies of the second edition have been distributed across Australia, and the Guidelines are also being used as a recommended text in vocational and educational training courses across Australia. At the time of writing, more than 7,400 people were registered users of the online training program and more than 1,700 people had completed the full program.
The impact of the Guidelines is demonstrated not only by their popularity, but by their perceived utility. Evaluations of both the first and second edition of the Guidelines and its accompanying online training program found them to be relevant and useful to clinical practice, enabling AOD workers to respond to co-occurring AOD and mental health conditions with greater confidence [2, 4]. More specifically, in an evaluation of the online training program, the vast majority of participants (>94%) reported that the program had increased their knowledge, confidence, and capacity to address comorbidity in their practice. Moreover, 89% reported using what they had learnt in their clinical practice, and 58% reported improved client outcomes .
While the Guidelines have proved to be an extremely successful clinical resource, the scientific evidence regarding the management and treatment of co-occurring disorders has grown considerably since the second edition was published. As such, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care funded researchers at the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of Sydney, to update and revise the Guidelines to bring them up to date with the most current evidence. The purpose of this chapter is to describe the aims, scope, and development of the revised Guidelines.