Rationale

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In 2007, the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing funded the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) to develop ‘Guidelines on the management of co-occurring alcohol and other drug and mental health conditions in alcohol and other drug treatment settings’ (hereafter referred to as the Guidelines) [1]. 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 comorbidity.

Since publication in December 2009, over 10,000 hard-copies and electronic copies have been distributed to clinicians and treatment services across Australia. In addition, this resource is a recommended text for students studying tertiary courses in AOD and mental health. The impact of this resource is demonstrated not only by its popularity, but by its perceived utility. Respondents to an online survey of AOD workers from a range of occupations and service types across Australia indicated that the Guidelines were both relevant and useful to their clinical practice, and that the Guidelines enabled them to respond to comorbidity related issues with greater confidence [2].

While the Guidelines have proved to be an extremely successful clinical resource, the scientific evidence regarding the management and treatment of comorbid disorders has grown considerably since they were first published. Consequently, the Australian Government Department of Health funded the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, NDARC, 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.