A Qualitative Study of Addiction Help-Seeking in People with Different Co-occurring Mental Disorders and Substance Use Problems

  • Rossio Motta-OchoaEmail author
  • Karine Bertrand
  • Jorge Flores-Aranda
  • Catherine Patenaude
  • Natacha Brunelle
  • Michel Landry
  • Serge Brochu
Original Article


People with mental disorders (MD) have high rates of substance use problems (SUP) that are undertreated and understudied despite their adverse outcomes. The objective of this study is to examine barriers and facilitators that influence help-seeking to addiction treatment from the perspective of people with co-occurring MD and SUP. Forty-three individuals with MD and SUP were selected from the sample (n = 127) of a larger research project. This sub-group participated in semi-structured interviews and completed questionnaires. Interview contents were thematically analyzed using a trajectory approach. Based on participants’ addiction trajectories, two mental health experiences were identified: the “multiple disorders experience” and the “anxiety disorder experience.” The analysis highlighted how participants relate to barriers and facilitators to addiction help-seeking at the individual level (denial/minimization of problematic drug use, fear of being labeled an addict, influence of social networks, and knowledge of addiction services) and health system level (waiting time, costs, relationships with health providers, therapeutic approaches, and availability of psychological support). Interventions should be sensitive to the different experiences of people with MD and SUP. Integrated addiction services and a “no wrong door” approach are suggested.


Addiction services Help-seeking Co-occurring disorders Substance use problems Trajectories Qualitative methodology 



This study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) through the Community-University Research Alliance Program (CURA).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This study was approved by the ethics committee of the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Sherbrooke (CHUS 2010-208-09-188) and by the Comité d’éthique de la recherché en toxicomanie of the Centre Dollard Cormier – Institut universitaire sur les Dépendances (CDC-IUD-09001).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Addiction Studies and Research Program, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesUniversité de SherbrookeLongueuilCanada
  2. 2.Coalition internationale sidaPantinFrance
  3. 3.School of CriminologyUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychoeducationUniversité du Québec à Trois-RivièresTrois-RivièresCanada
  5. 5.Montreal Addiction Rehabilitation CentreUniversity InstituteMontrealCanada
  6. 6.Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesUniversité de SherbrookeLongueuilCanada

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