Goal is to develop better treatments for patients with both disorders
The Maryland Psychiatric Research Center (MPRC), a facility that is funded and governed jointly by the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), received a $13 million grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse to establish a research program in the treatment of people with serious mental illnesses who also have substance abuse problems. The program will be conducted by staff of the MPRC, which is located on the grounds of Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville, Maryland.
"Individuals with mental illness and addiction issues comprise at least half of the patients in most mental health treatment facilities," says Robert Conley, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief of treatment research at the MPRC. "This combination increases the risk of frequent psychiatric relapses, poor medication compliance, violence, suicide, legal problems and high utilization of the emergency room or inpatient services. Traditional mental health and addiction treatments have not adequately addressed this combination of disorders."
The award will fund development of a clinical research support program to foster work in the fields of functional brain imaging, substance abuse treatment, drug development and pharmacology. The work will be done in conjunction with staff at Spring Grove Hospital Center and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
"We want to understand why people are more vulnerable to one condition if they have the other," says Dr. Conley. "Instead of focusing on which problem came first, the mental illness or the substance abuse, we plan to create ways to effectively treat both conditions at the same time. Treatment integration is key to helping these patients deal with their problems."
Under the grant, volunteers will be able to participate in a variety of clinical trials to study dual diagnosis. "Better understanding of the connection between substance abuse and psychiatric disorders could have a profound effect on prevention and treatment," says Dr. Conley, principal investigator on the grant. The grant will also fund basic science research on molecular biology, neurotransmitter systems and neural circuitry involved in mental illness and substance abuse disorders.
"The partnership between DHMH, the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the MPRC has brought Maryland national recognition over the years," said DHMH Secretary S. Anthony McCann. "This trend continues with this grant, which will help to restore health to those Maryland citizens who suffer from both mental illnesses and chemical substance abuse disorders."
The Maryland Psychiatric Research Center is dedicated to providing treatment to patients with schizophrenia and related disorders, educating professionals and consumers about schizophrenia, and conducting basic and translational research into the manifestations, causes, and treatment of schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses.
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.