October 30, 2011

A recent meeting in Spain brought together professionals in addiction, addiction psychiatry, and mental health to share knowledge and recent research advances about dual disorders.

Dual disorders, dual diagnosis, dual pathology, and co-occurrence disorders are all related concepts describing the comorbid presence of substance use disorders and other mental disorders. These disorders are present in an increasing number of patients and pose a significant challenge to the clinician who treats them. NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D., and Iván Montoya, M.D., M.P.H., Medical Officer, Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse, attended the congress titled “II International Congress on Dual Disorders: Addictive Behaviours and Other Mental Disorders” in Barcelona on October 5–8, 2011.

The first International Congress was held in Madrid in 2008. This year’s congress, sponsored in part by NIDA and organized by the Spanish Society of Dual Pathology, offered a platform for professionals in the fields of mental health and addictions to review and share recent knowledge and developments in the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of dual disorders, from molecular biology to daily clinical practice and from prevention strategies to recovery programs.

Dr. Volkow spoke at one of the plenary sessions about recent research efforts to identify genetic and environmental factors underlying mental and addictive disorders and the most effective strategies for their successful treatment. The congress also included symposia, workshops, meetings with experts, educational update sessions, oral communications, and posters. A special 2-day symposium titled “Parallel Symposia on Self-Medication and Self-Regulation in Dual Diagnosis” was organized to review the evidence for and against the theory that some patients use drugs as an attempt to cope with the psychopathological distress they suffer.